Tens of millions of Americans suffer from respiratory ailments such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Though most respiratory problems can be alleviated with daily maintenance and preventive care, flare-ups can still strike. If you need immediate care for a respiratory problem, please visit your nearest Fast Track Urgent Care clinic.
Common Respiratory Problems & Treatments
Asthma is a chronic disease that inflames the air passages and leads to temporary obstructions of the airways. These obstructions result in symptoms like coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and tightening of the chest. When these symptoms come on rapidly, they can trigger an asthma attack. Asthma attacks can be mild or severe.
If you are suffering from a serious attack, you should call 911 or head immediately to an emergency room. If you experience a milder asthma attack that is still causing you distress, an urgent care facility will be able to treat your asthma attack and help you manage your symptoms.
For long-term asthma care, it is crucial that you develop a plan with your doctor. Unfortunately, there is no cure for asthma. But with careful monitoring and a doctor’s care, it can be managed and the patient can enjoy an active lifestyle.
Bronchitis is inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes. Acute bronchitis is short-term, usually caused by a cold. Chronic bronchitis is more serious and requires specialized care.
Acute bronchitis symptoms include:
- Discomfort in the chest
- Persistent tiredness
- Production of mucus
- Slight fever and/or chills
Typically, a doctor will recommend treatment that is very similar to treatment for the common cold: rest, fluids, over-the-counter pain and cold relief, and use of a humidifier. For cases causing increased discomfort, a doctor may prescribe medication. Chronic bronchitis symptoms are similar to those described above, but last for months and sometimes years and are generally more severe. The most common cause of chronic bronchitis is cigarette smoking.
Acute Bronchitis Treatment
If you are diagnosed with chronic bronchitis and you smoke, a doctor will urge you to quit smoking immediately. Additional treatments for bronchitis will vary depending on your symptoms and whether or not you are experiencing complications such as bacterial infections.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
When chronic bronchitis is accompanied by emphysema, it becomes COPD. COPD affects more than 13 million Americans, and is the fourth leading cause of death in the US. Sadly, close to 8 of every 10 cases of COPD are caused by exposure to cigarette smoke.
Emphysema involves the destruction of air sacs in the lung’s air passages. Combined with chronic bronchitis’ inflammation of the bronchial tubes’ lining, this makes COPD a serious and typically debilitating condition.
COPD symptoms include:
- Chest tightness
- A chronic cough that produces mucus (often accompanied by the need to cough a lot in the morning to clear excess mucus)
- Frequent respiratory infections
- Lack of energy
- Shortness of breath, especially during physical activities
By the time COPD symptoms appear, lung damage is already significant. Having COPD increases your risk of heart problems, high blood pressure, and lung cancer. It can also cause depression, as it limits activity and can contribute to stress.
As noted above, if you are a smoker, the first and best thing you can do to treat your COPD is to quit smoking. Your doctor can help you find the smoking cessation method that is right for you. Additional treatments for COPD include inhaled medications, inhaled and oral steroids, antibiotics, and other oral medications. Lung therapies and surgery may also be considered.
Pneumonia is an infection that inflames the air sacs in the lungs and can cause them to fill with fluid. Symptoms include cough, fever, chest pain, shortness of breath, and fatigue. If you have these symptoms, especially a consistent fever of 102⁰ and a consistent cough, you should see a doctor.
Most cases of pneumonia can typically be treated with medication; however, severe cases can be life-threatening and may require hospitalization. Small children, infants, and the elderly are particularly susceptible to severe pneumonia.
Most urgent care centers, including Fast Track, offer nebulizer treatments for asthma suffers and patients experiencing other respiratory problems. Nebulizers convert liquid medication into a vapor which is easily inhaled directly into the lungs. Many patients report extreme relief after nebulizer treatment.
Contact Fast Track Urgent Care for Respiratory Treatment in MD
If you have severe asthma, COPD, bronchitis, pneumonia, or another respiratory condition, we can help. If you are suffering from a serious attack, you should call 911 or head immediately to an emergency room. If you are experiencing a milder respiratory attack, please visit your nearest Fast Track Urgent Care clinic.
Please contact Fast Track Urgent Care in Silver Spring or Kensington for more information on respiratory problems or nebulizer treatments.