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Upper Respiratory Infections

Upper respiratory tract infections (URTI) are probably one of the most common infections that affect children and adults alike. While the common cold - Nasopharyngitis is usually self-limiting, other respiratory infections such as pharyngitis, sinusitis, epiglottitis and laryngotracheitis (inflammation of the trachea and larynx) must be promptly treated. The common cold is a mild and self-limiting condition that affects children often in their early years. Thereafter the incidence decreases.


Common Cold : Most upper respiratory infections (URI) are viral. There are nearly 200 types of virus that cause the common cold. You are more likely to contract an upper respiratory infection when you are tired and physically or emotionally fatigued. Working and living in crowds and lack of balanced nutrition make you more susceptible to URIs. The common cold is very contagious. It is not surprising to note an entire class being affected by it as soon as a child gets affected by a new strain of virus. Spread of virus occurs while sneezing or touching the eyes or mouth after you have touched something contaminated by the virus. A person suffering from a cold - Nasopharyngitis, is most contagious during the first 3 days. Typical symptoms of URI are runny nose, sore throat and water eyes. The ears may be congested and the person may run mild fever. The first 2 days of a cold are marked by repeated sneezing and watery nasal discharge. This secretion becomes thicker in a couple of days. You might experience postnasal drip, low-grade fever, headache, burning eyes and muscle aches depending on the kind of virus you have picked up.


Most of the time, common colds are treated with over-the-counter medications. Resting well and drinking plenty of fluids can help you feel better. Hot chicken soup can do wonders to relieve stuffy nose and other symptoms. Gargling with warm salt water works well for a sore throat. Mild antihistamines can be used for runny nose. Expectorants can help in drainage of mucus. Acetaminophen or mild pain relievers can be used in case of sore throat and headache. Vitamin C supplements can also help. Inhaling steam can temporarily relieve symptoms of congestion.


Stenosis

Unusual narrowing of the blood vessels or other tubular structures or organs is referred to as stenosis. In simple words stenosis means narrowing of the various body parts. The common causes for stenosis include birth defects, inflammation, neoplasm (abnormal proliferation of cells), ischemia (reduction of blood supply thus damaging tissues), infection, iatrogenic (complications arising from any treatment) and atherosclerosis.


Spinal stenosis: Specific causes include rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, aging, spinal injury or tumor and spondylosis. Symptoms include pain and weakness in the legs along with cramps, imbalance and loss of control over bladder and bowel movements.


Mitral valve stenosis: Specific causes include endocarditis, atrial myoxma, rheumatic fever and Lutembacher syndrome. Symptoms of mitral valve stenosis are fatigue, recurrent respiratory infections and swelling in the feet.


Aortic valve stenosis: This type of Stenosis may be caused by rheumatic fever, Williams syndrome, LDL receptor deficiency and senile or bicuspid aortic valves. The typical symptoms of aortic valve stenosis are chest pain and heart murmur, fatigue and shortness of breath and heart palpitations.


Pulmonary valve stenosis: Specific causes include deformity during fetal development, rheumatic fever and endocarditis. This type of stenosis has symptoms of cough and fatigue, fluid retention and shortness of breath.


Treatment differs according to the type of stenosis. While physical therapy, drugs like analgesics and lumbar brace are used to manage spinal stenosis, aortic valve stenosis and pulmonary valve stenosis are treated with valve replacement surgery.


Lung Cancer

Lung cancer has been commonly associated with cigarette smoking and use of tobacco. Lung cancer can surface in any part of the lung, though most instances of lung cancer are noticed in the epithelial lining. Smoking is the cause for nearly 90%of the cases of lung cancer. Tobacco smoke contains carcinogens that contribute towards the development of lung cancer. Women smokers are at greater risk of lung cancer than men smokers. Even passive smoking is fraught with risks. Another cause for lung cancer is exposure to asbestos fibers. This gives rise to mesothelioma. A small percentage of lung cancer cases are attributed to radon gas exposure. Persons suffering from COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) at at increased risk for lung cancer. Air pollution arising from vehicular and industrial effluents can increase the risk of lung cancer.


Symptoms of lung cancer include coughing and wheezing and chest pain. A patient suffering from lung cancer may notice blood while coughing. There might be extreme fatigue and unexplained weight loss. Lung cancer patients are more likely to face repeated respiratory infections such as bronchitis and pneumonia. Other symptoms of lung cancer include difficulty in swallowing and enlargement of lymph nodes on the neck.


The physician will look into the lungs with a bronchoscope. Tissue samples are often taken for biopsy. Sputum cytology is also conducted to detect presence of lung cancer cells. Chest x-ray and examination is done. Tissue biopsy of lymph nodes is done to diagnose lung cancer. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy are used in the treatment of lung cancer.

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Collection of Pages - Last revised Date: September 18, 2019