Thursday, January 21, 2016

Five Tips for Easier Breathing

Imagine feeling like you just ran up ten flights of stairs after simply walking to the kitchen for a glass of water. Think of the last time you had a serious cold and woke up throughout the night, coughing and unable to stop. People who suffer from respiratory illnesses, such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), regularly experience these unsettling symptoms.

Caused by airway obstruction and irritation, inflammation of air passages or other damage to lung tissues, chronic respiratory diseases make breathing an ever-present concern. As a result, people who have such illnesses often need treatment in an Emergency Room. They might avoid exercise to prevent feeling out of breath, which can then lead to weight gain, weakness and high blood pressure. Additionally, those who suffer from respiratory problems may become depressed or anxious, worried about when their symptoms will strike next.

Fortunately, there are some actions people can take to manage or improve their respiratory health.
  • Quit smoking and avoid being around secondhand smoke. Quitting has immediate health benefits, even if you or a loved one has smoked for many years.
  • Visit your primary care physician regularly. The care team can assess your needs and help you to identify things that trigger your symptoms. They can also refer you to a specialist if needed.
  • Get a flu shot every year, unless otherwise instructed by your physician. Respiratory illnesses may make people more susceptible to viral infections like the flu. The infection can then become more serious or cause the respiratory illness to worsen.
  • Get a pneumococcal vaccine at least once in your lifetime. People with respiratory problems are more likely to develop pneumonia from an infection, which can result in other health complications.
  • Practice good hand hygiene. Washing your hands frequently with soap and warm water helps to prevent you from catching viral infections.

If you or a loved one is struggling with symptoms like shortness of breath, persistent cough, wheezing or a tight feeling in the chest, consider seeing a primary care physician. GBMC has primary care practices located throughout the Baltimore area. Learn more at

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