Asthma and COPD, other aspects: smoking, sports, army, firefighters, psyche …

Other aspects

COPD – Asthma and smoking (1/2016)

Asthma is very often a disease that is passed on by the parents. Frequently it already starts in the childhood, at the time when most people did not yet smoke one cigarette.
Indeed, smoking is not a cause of asthma. Nor does smoking later on cause asthma.
However, when people suffer from asthma smoking actively may cause negative effects. Asthma is characterized by an inflammation of the mucoid skin. In many smoking asthmatics smoking leads to additional damage and to additional inflammation of the mucoid skin. Effects are adding up. If we treat the inflammation and the asthmatic goes on smoking we can compare this to a man calling the fire brigade to his burning house while pouring oil on the fire by himself.
Apparently one can find few asthmatics, who are badly harmed by smoking. Individual people suffering from asthma who smoke are able to breathe more easily after smoking. Some asthmatics even report after quitting smoking they felt more breathless.
Chronic bronchitis is often caused by genetic transmission as well. Smoking at the time of birth does not occur. Smoking itself and alone does not cause chronic bronchitis or COPD. Who inherits the condition by his parents develops chronic bronchitis 1 to 20 years earlier than without smoking. Prediction for individual cases is difficult but looking back we can judge it.
For example: If somebody with the inherited condition starts suffering from chronic bronchitis aged around 70 years, he hardly could have developed it a hundred years ago. At that time only a few people suffered from this disease. Today many people live up to 90 years. So consequently they suffer from this illness in their last twenty years (Cough and shortness of breath). If these people additionally smoke and they start the disease twenty years earlier, so they suffer for the last forty years out of 90 years. This means that nowadays they suffer nearly half of their lives and even during their working life and when doing active sports or so on and not few of them retire earlier because of breathlessness. This means an important loss of quality of life. That is why not smoking is so important. Not smoking means quality of life in the second half of life. Smoking causes a loss of quality of life!
If you want to quit smoking write on a paper: “I shall be free from cigarettes and I want to save my quality of life or even improve it.” Write the sentence twenty times on paper and put it up in the toilette, in the kitchen, in your office, over your bed, in your car or anywhere. You want to quit it. You want more quality of life and you can get it!


COPD – Asthma and sports (2/2017)

Asthma is a disease of the mucoid layer in the airways, which is inflamed. The inflammation causes production of phlegm, cough, susceptibility of infections of the airways and highly irritable bronchi. Breathlessness is only the second stage, caused by the inflammation. Often shortness of breath is experienced first under exertion, under exertion under special circumstances, sometimes when sleeping during the night.
That is why some people speak of „exertional asthma“ even if this term is not quite correct.
Chronic bronchitis is a disease of the mucoid layer in the airways as well as of the tissue of the lung. In many cases shortness of breath is experienced first under severe exertion and later on even under light exertion.
Again and again I see patients who do sports in order to train their lungs among other aims. Not few smokers think that the negative effects of smoking on the lung could be reduced by physical training.
The lung – the big muscle.
Again I am often told by patients that they had been shorter of breath when they were physically untrained. Shortness of breath seems to be relieved by physical training. That is why physical training has to be good for the lung.
Yet, what is true about these opinions and claims?
The lung is spread in the thorax within a certain volume. This volume remains the same whether we often train or whether we only sit in front of the tv. Competitive athletes do not have a thorax double the size of average. More function do we not achieve by growing of the thorax (like in muscles) but by breathing deeper and faster. The lung is filled and emptied passively. Training hardly alters the lung, nor is the chemical structure altered.
Exertion does not widen the bronchi. In many cases exertion is not the cause for constricted bronchis when shortness of breath is experienced. Decisive are the irritants in the air which are ventilated by doing sports (clammy air outside in opposite to warm and dry air inside etc.). The irritants decide how far the constriction of the bronchi is experienced.
It is possible to train of the skeletal muscles, of the muscles at arms and legs, of body and neck and the muscles of the diaphragma and the muscles of the thorax to help breathing too. That is why many well trained people suffering from lung diseases feel better than untrained ones. But the inflammation itself of the mucoid layer has not subsided in consequnce, nor the irritability or the width of the bronchi. The diaphragmas and the muscles of the thorax, which help breathing are outside the lung, not inside. However, we didn’t change anything inside the lung by training, only outside the lung at the muscles.


Asthma, COPD and the psyche (1/2018)

At least since Sigmund Freud the question about processes inside the human being have become important in the world, processes which are not material. This way of thinking may be partially artifical but it is very useful. Since ancient days the term „psyche“ has been used for that.
There is wide research and a department of medicine working on this issue, psychology and in its medical application psychiatry. These thoughts suggest that the psyche is apart from the body. But thinking about this soon we are aware that this conclusion must be wrong.
So a discipline came to life which works with the connection between body and psyche: The Somatopsychology. Sorry, you don’t know this word? As I read already Maximilian Jacobi (1775 until 1858) created this term. This term has already been known for a long time. And when we look on the internet for this term we find something.
But you are right. The term that is well-known to us is „psychosomatic medicine“. And when someone looks on the internet, in the literature, in medical publications a vast number of studies and teachings about the influence of the psyche on the body can be found but only very little about the opposite direction, the influence of the body on the psyche. And even if one looks closely at the little one he recognizes that it is only a small appendix to psychosomatic issues. The authors changed the direction to the direction „psyche to body“ very fast.
But the few ones, who are really engaged with this direction of influence, do this by telling us about cancer and chronic diseases commonly. In wikipedia a
precise list of such diseases is offered. But there diseases like neurological ones or metabolic ones or brain deficiencies are mentioned. In these diseases the influence on the body is recognized easliy. Asthma and COPD are not mentioned there.
Indeed here we look at a process rarely attended to, the influence of asthma, less important COPD too, on the psyche. The diseases „Asthma“ and „COPD“ (the latter I said does not exist) I wrote about it before (See: COPD (Asthma). Definition:…). To be correct I should now describe the term „Psyche“. But not to distract from the important issue I will not do so.
In the descriptions of the diseases Asthma and COPD I already mentioned that I think both of them are mainly inherited. Certain combinations of genes are
inherited, so the lungs become unique like the psyche and one is either an asthmatic or a COPD-case or not. In asthma the fact can usually be reconstructed more easily than in COPD. Typically asthma is the disease of young people whereas COPD is the disease of people growing older, assuming that growing older already starts in childhood.
But as in asthma so in COPD it is important to recognize that suffering from them does not mean to suffer in each case and everytime in the same way and extent. Commonly it is found that asthmatics and COPD-patients too may sometimes suffer severely, sometimes even not at all. Asthmatics might not feel any symptom for decades. COPD-patients are typically free from symptoms in the first half of their lives.
Concerning the severity of symptoms Asthma more than COPD is influenced by external circumstances. In consequence many asthmatics need much time to become aware of their disease and secondly to understand their disease. That is why many asthmatics develop uncertainty, fear, regression and other problems depending on how much time had passed until the disease was diagnosed and understanding and therapy started. In many cases years or even decades have passed. The oldest woman was aged 74 years when I said: When we look at your history of symptoms we have to state, that your Asthma-disease has been there even since your early childhood. She agreed.
My analyses can not fulfil scientific criterias. I have not made statistics, have not collected figueres and can not claim objectivity. I have already pointed out elsewhere that caution is requested with the term „objectivity“ in connection with these diseases.
Let us look at asthma. My wife recently has told me (she is an artisan and offers lessons in her craft) a person missing his right hand since birth was in her lesson. She was fairly astonished how much this person could perform without the right hand without any help. That was brilliant. He only lacked the ability to cut with scissors produced for right handers. Understandably.
Children adapt to their condition and with a little help from other people they develop manual skills to do everything that healthy people can. For them their condition is normal. They adapt to it without thinking about it. It is as simple as that.
From many asthmatics I have heard that their symptoms have been the same for many years and they have become used to them. But healthy people do not feel these symptomes. Asthmatics try to compensate these limitations and they develop astonishing performance without thinking about the facts. In consequence many parents or teachers are not aware of these limitations because they are hidden. Physicians only diagnose or treat people who tell them about their symptoms and even wish to be treated. Other people are not treated.
Some people do sports until they drop and are often conspicuous not because of shortness of breath but only because of their red complexion even for one or two hours afterwards. However, but who would be aware that this is a problem of the lungs? Some patients cough violently when doing sports or after doing that. Others feel breathlessness when they do sports or after doing so. Anyway it should be possible to hide this condition. Well, by being more ambitious or by changing to another field of interest: Prefering more theoretical pastimes, such as reading more, more gaming or more sweat tooth resp. eating more. By now I am convinced of the fact that especially a part of the girls suffers from obesity because they were not able to compete with their friends.
That starts a vicious circle. These relations have to be pointed out and to be discussed with the patients and their parents. Early and consistent therapy is important.
Not few children are not diagnosed to be asthmatics because they are calmer than others as consequence of their disability. These parents are lucky. Their children do not give trouble.
But the opposite is found too. People who feel a disturbance of their breathing (and we have very sensitive sensors in our breathing muscles that show us the existence of a problem far earlier than a lungfunction test) these people become excited, nervous, agitated, grumpily, shortspoken. That is why they cannot give their full attention to what they are doing in the moment but have to be cautious of their body, too.
Patients who suffered from breathlessness in their childhood are more likely to develope fear, anxiety, hyperventilation and depression. A good therapy of asthma suddenly works like psychotherapy or as prevention against mental disorders.
Then follows puberty. It is a common believe that teenage grows out of asthma then. That is right and wrong at the same time. But a common development is, that in asthma in childhood symptoms are often severe, whereas symptoms decrease after puberty. However, who was not well in childhood and finds that after puberty symptoms have decreased is now happy and starts into his life. And that is ok. These patients have become used to their restrictions. Now they are better than before. So, now they suppose they are healthy they think. What is really healthy they do not know. Of course the idea would not occur to anyone in that time to tell a physician any symptom and to ask for therapy. Later on, when about 5 to 30 years have passed depending on good or bad luck and symptoms increase again, questions arise.
Often right at the beginning of an asthmaphase patients hyperventilate. They feel shortness of breath but they are not really aware of it and do not understand it. The shortness of breath varies, is unpredictable and often occurs under physical exertion or mental stress. At that time the patient is usually occupied with other things and his body now steals him his attention and affects his performance. Normally this situation does not be dangerous but patients are not free to do what they actually wanted to do at this time and they cannot perform at their best. At this moment most of them do not even know what is going on with them. In girls and young women more often than in boys or men this leads to hyperventilation (breathing too much). That sounds absurd but it is the consequence of feeling breathlessness but having healthy and strongly muscles to breathe more strengthfully to compensate this feeling.
Because our consciousness has no sensor for measuring oxygen the consciousness can not regulate our breathing correctly. This regulation is an unconscious process. When in that case we try to breathe optimally with our muscles we normally breathe more than required. We hyperventilate. Symptoms of hyperventilation are dizziness, a dull sensation in the head, shivering, disorders of sensation in fingers and toes, finally cramps of the fingers. At last the patient loses consciousness not falling like a tree cut down but sinking down without any harm.