Tag Archives: lungs

What is Sarcoidosis?

April is Sarcoidosis Awareness Month, so we wanted to take a closer look at this widely unknown condition. Sarcoidosis is a multisystem condition whereby tiny granulomas (abnormal inflammatory tissues) grow in different parts of the body, most often affecting the lungs, eyes, skin and lymph nodes. Let’s check out some more facts:

  • The root of the condition is not yet fully understood, but medical research seems to suggest it stems from a problem with an over-reactive immune system.
  • Common symptoms include: fatigue, chronic cough, breathing problems, rashes or red bumps, joint problems (such as swelling or pain), enlarged lymph nodes, kidney stones, arrhythmias or other heart problems, psychiatric problems, seizures, vision problems or hearing problems.
  • Sarcoidosis can cause a serious skin condition called lupus pernio (also known as cutaneous sarcoidosis) that causes deep red or purple nodules and marks on the skin.
  • Approximately 1 in every 2500 Americans have some degree of sarcoidosis.
  • Sarcoidosis usually affects young adults and is more prevalent among African-American people than Caucasians. African-American women are most likely to develop the disease than any other demographic.
  • As with many conditions, if you have sarcoidosis, maintaining good health will help your chances of getting rid of the condition. This includes undergoing regular exercise, eating healthy, getting enough water and sleep, and avoiding smoking or excess drinking.
  • Unfortunately, up to 30% of people with sarcoidosis go on to develop some lung damage, so it is very important to follow up regularly with your specialist or doctor if you have the condition, so they can reassess which treatment avenues may be best for you to prevent further damage.
  • Treatment for sarcoidosis sometimes includes medications commonly prescribed for other painful autoimmune conditions including: prednisone, Plaquenil, methotrexate, or other DMARDs (disease modifying antirheumatic drugs).
  • Sarcoidosis is not easily diagnosed, as many of its symptoms can be attributed to other conditions, but if your doctor suspects you may have the condition he or she will examine you and your medical records and order certain tests to confirm such as x-rays or HRTC scans.
  • Causes of sarcoidosis are not fully understood, but the condition seems to stem sometimes from abnormal reaction to certain bacteria or viral strains, chemicals, or in some cases perhaps a hereditary predilection.
  • This condition can involve, or cause complications with the lungs, heart, kidneys, brain or eyes.
  • There is no cure for sarcoidosis but treatment helps most people, and nearly half of all cases resolve themselves or go into long remission stages without treatment. Some severe cases can become chronic and cause damage to organs.

Thanks for visiting DocChat, we hope you drop back again soon!



COPD – Get The Facts

COPD is a serious and misunderstood chronic lung condition. It is one of America’s stealthiest top killers, even though many people are hardly aware of the facts. COPD is serious business, and everyone should be aware of the early signs. Let’s take a gander at some of the facts:

  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) refers to a few progressive (and life-threatening) lung conditions such as emphysema, chronic bronchitis and refractory asthmatics (symptoms never go away).
  • People with COPD have a hard time breathing because their airways lose elasticity, scarring destroy airway walls, or too much mucus is produced which clogs the airways.
  • It is also a leading cause of disability.
  • At least 11 million Americans are afflicted with COPD (the numbers are likely much higher is it is underdiagnosed).
  • Every hour approximately 250,000 people worldwide will die of COPD.
  • More women die of COPD than men, largely because of misdiagnosis but it appears estrogen plays a role as well.
  • COPD often affects those in their 50’s and 60’s, but younger people can also have COPD.
  • Many people aren’t diagnosed until their disease is in the advanced stages. Know the early warning signs: chronic coughing, shortness of breath, blueish lips or fingernails, chronic wheezing, chest tightness, fatigue and frequent bouts of bronchitis.
  • While the main cause of COPD is smoking and inhaling smoke, not everyone who has the disease is a former smoker. Inhaling environment pollutants over a long term (such as at a hazardous job) and genetics can also cause COPD.
  • If you have COPD, ask your doctor to screen you for the Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency AATD gene, as it may help shed light on how severe your lung disease is or will likely become.
  • The best way to prevent COPD is not to smoke or be around second hand smoke, and to quit if you are already a smoker.
  • There is no cure for COPD, but it is a highly treatable condition if it is caught early enough. Many of the same medications that asthmatics take help COPD sufferers, as well as corticosteroids or oxygen therapy.
  • Early screening can catch COPD before too much damage is done, so the condition can be treated to help slow its progression. Doctors can screen for COPD with a simple spirometry test in their office. Ask your doctor about COPD screening today.

If you have been experiencing some of the symptoms we listed, do not ignore them. Make an appointment today to see your doctor (of one of ours!) to get screened for COPD. Thanks for visiting, we hope you’ll be back again soon!

15 Neat Facts About Your Lungs

The lungs are pretty amazing instruments. They are the two vital organs largely responsible for breathing, the most necessary function to sustain life. So let’s find out some interesting facts about these amazing organs:

  1. The lungs are the only internal organs that would float in water.
  2. A sneeze can reach the speed of 10mph.
  3. The total weight of both lungs is nearly 3 pounds.
  4. Your right lung is divided into 3 lobes, while the left is divided into 2. The left lung is smaller to accommodate your heart.
  5. It is possible to live (restrictedly) with only one lung.
  6. At birth, the lungs are pink in color but pollution begins to darken them almost immediately.
  7. At rest, we breath between 13-20 times a minute.
  8. You will inhale approximately 45 pounds of dust over your lifetime! Ewww! Bad news for allergy sufferers…
  9. You can’t breathe and swallow simultaneously.
  10. You will breathe about 5 million times this year alone!
  11. If they were to be unfolded, your airways would span about 1500 miles!
  12. When you breathe, your lungs take in oxygen and exhale carbon-dioxide, a process which produces some water.
  13. You actually exhale about 5 millilitres of water an hour, which is nearly 2 cups daily!
  14. There are various lung diseases, one of the most common is asthma. Asthma causes your airways to constrict when exposed to an irritant (like dust, scents or cold air). It also causes your lungs to produce excess mucus during an attack.
  15. Amazingly, your brain senses your blood-oxygen level and causes your lungs to breathe faster or slower according to these levels. Wow!

Now if those facts don’t prove just how incredible the human lungs are, we don’t know what to tell you. Thanks for visiting DocChat!

Cystic Fibrosis Fast Facts

Cystic fibrosis is a life-threatening genetic disease that affects 30,000 Americans. Let’s take a look at some of the key facts and figures about this serious condition:

  • Cystic fibrosis is a relatively common life-threatening genetic disease that impairs the secretory glands.
  • It affects many different parts of the body including the lungs, pancreas, sweat glands and reproductive tract.
  • CF causes too much salt to build up in cells, therefor creating a thick mucus that lines the lung walls making breathing difficult.
  • People with CF have salty skin.
  • The average life expectancy for people with CF is approximately 37 years of age
  • People with CF are highly prone to lung infections such as bronchitis or pneumonia and are more vulnerable to the effects than healthy people, so they often die of complications caused by infections.
  • Although exercise is difficult for people with CF, light exercise can help increase lung capacity.
  • Automatic screening for newborns is carried out in nearly all the hospitals in the United States.
  • The disease is present from birth and caused by a mutated gene carried by both parents.
  • If both parents carry the CF gene, there is a 25% chance their child will develop cystic fibrosis.
  • Approximately 10 million Americans are carriers of the CF gene.
  • There are over 900 mutation variants of the gene, so testing is difficult.
  • Life expectancy for people with CF varies on the severity of their condition and how well they respond to medication.
  • Some people thing cystic fibrosis is contagious, but it is not.
  • Symptoms of CF vary, but include: persistent and chronic coughing due to the constant buildup of mucus, exercise intolerance, poor appetite, slowed growth or weight loss, fatigue, wheezing and breathing difficulty, bowel problems such as constipation or diarrhea and weakness or dizziness.
  • There is no cure for CF but there are many treatment options available today that can extend the life of many CF sufferers such as nebulizer medications, inhaled medications, physiotherapy and oxygen supplementation.
  • Ultimately a lung transplant has the best chance of greatly extending the life of a person with severe CF, although lung transplants are risky as the body can reject the donor organs which would greatly increase the risk of death.

That concludes our look into cystic fibrosis. Thanks for visiting DocChat! If you have any questions about cystic fibrosis or any other medical issue, our excellent board certified doctors are standing by 24/7/365!

Can Coffee Help Asthma?

In short, yes, drinking enough coffee can help ease some of the symptoms of asthma such as wheezing and coughing because it contains caffeine, which acts like a bronchodilator. Specifically, caffeine mimics the effects of an older asthma medication called theophylline, which relieves breathlessness and wheezing by opening the airways.

Don’t Switch Your Meds For Perk

Studies have shown that drinking 2-3 highly caffeinated beverages such as coffee (coffee and tea are among the most caffeinated, followed by certain sodas) may help alleviate some asthma symptoms for even up to hours after initial onset. However, others argue you’d need too much coffee to see a significant benefit. Furthermore, coffee is not as effective as actual asthma medications so people certainly shouldn’t be putting down their puffers in place of a cup of joe. In an emergency where a asthmatic has no access to puffers, 2-3 cups of coffee could potentially help keep the stabilize their condition until emergency care is in place, but this isn’t foolproof. Some medical professionals do suggest a couple cups a day as preventative asthma care. Besides, most current asthmatic puffers work better and for longer than theophylline (with fewer side effects), so while coffee would be an okay substitute in a pinch, the effects may pale in comparison to today’s emergency asthma medications.

Can Coffee Interfere With Lung Function Tests?

Quality clinical trials have been conducted to look into just how closely caffeine mimics the effects of asthma medications, specifically when it comes to lung function tests. Many of these studies have shown that drinking certain amounts of coffee can actually sway a lung function test, making the person perform better than if they would have without the coffee. So the benefits may not be enough to stop an attack mid-wheeze, but there must be some merit to the coffee cure if asthmatics should avoid caffeine before performing a respiratory test!

Coffee Beans And Scents

There is little to no empirical research to back up this next claim, but many homeopathic and some medical professionals have suggested sniffing coffee beans for asthmatics who react very badly to scents. Taking a little baggie full of fresh coffee beans in public and having a little sniff could potentially block some scents from effecting you quite as adversely as without the blockers. Is there any truth to it? It is hard to say, but consider this: coffee beans have long been used to neutralize the nostrils between perfume testings, so why wouldn’t they be effective for blocking scents you may breeze by while shopping? Anything is worth a try even if it helps that tiny little bit.

The Bottom Line

So it seems having a few cups of coffee during a bout of wheezes can have a moderate bronchodilation effect, but it shouldn’t be something you rely on too heavily, and you certainly shouldn’t be replacing any puffers with coffee. However, it is good information to know and could indeed help someone in an emergency who doesn’t have access to medication and a couple cups of black coffee a day may well provide some day-to-day asthma relief. Just to note, a much more effective alternative medication for asthma attacks which many people unfortunately don’t know about is an adrenaline autoinjector. EpiPens may be for allergies, but they can save the life of an asthmatic having a serious attack just as effectively.

Thanks for reading! We hope you visit DocChat again soon!




Could Cockroaches Be Triggering Your Allergic Asthma?

Are your allergies or asthma out of control year-round and you’ve been dusting regularly, avoiding harsh chemicals and taking all the other necessary precautions to no avail? You just may have a creepy crawly allergic asthma trigger scuttling around your home! According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), the number of asthmatics who are affected by insects like cockroaches could be as high as 60%. Moreover, it is estimated that 63% of rural homes and up to 98% of urban dwellings across America contain a few of these little troublemakers.

But…But How Do Cockroaches Trigger Allergic Asthma?

Similar to the other highly allergenic insect (the dust mite), cockroach allergies stem from skin and body parts they shed, feces they leave around and from their saliva, so your allergy is not actually to the insect themselves. All this bothersome matter is unknowingly stirred up into the air as the inhabitants of the house move about, clean and go about their daily business. This can cause troublesome symptoms in allergic asthma and allergy sufferers. German and Palmetto cockroaches are the two most common culprits in North America.

Allergic Symptoms to Cockroaches

Asthmatic Symptoms:

  • Wheezing and shortness of breath
  • A nagging cough
  • Chest tightness
  • Sleep disturbances because of asthma symptom flares
  • Recurrent asthma attacks

Cockroaches can induce full blown, dangerous asthma attacks. If you or the person you are caring for begins wheezing profusely, breathing rapidly, having trouble breathing or has a blue tinge to the lips or nails, call for emergency treatment right away.

What Can You Do To Protect Yourself?

If you think your allergies or asthma may be irritated by cockroaches, book an appointment with an allergist to be tested for the allergen. This may not help if it is your asthma that is bothered, but the allergist will be able to determine whether cockroaches are making you wheeze. She may prescribe medications to help ease your symptoms, or suggest immunization allergy shots in some cases. The best thing you can do to ease your discomfort is try to control the infestation by cleaning regularly (even in tight spots, they like to hide), eliminate clutter, keep food tightly sealed and hire an exterminator to assess your roach problem and take care of it.

So, there you have it! We all knew they were pesky, but roaches actually may be making you sick! If you have any questions about cockroach allergies feel free to signup to DocChat today for a video consultation with one of our highly qualified physicians. Thanks for visiting!