Health Topics

Symptoms

Dual Diagnosis
National Library of Medicine
What is dual diagnosis?

A person with dual diagnosis has both a mental disorder and an alcohol or drug problem. These conditions occur together frequently. About half of people who have a mental disorder will also have a substance use disorder at some point in their lives and vice versa. The interactions of the two conditions can worsen both.

Why do substance use disorders and mental disorders occur together?

Although these problems often occur together, this does not mean that one caused the other, even if one appeared first. In fact, it can be hard to figure out which came first. Researchers think that there are three possibilities as to why they occur together:

  • Common risk factors may contribute to both mental disorders and substance use disorders. These factors include genetics, stress, and trauma.
  • Mental disorders can contribute to drug use and substance use disorders. For example, people with mental disorders may use drugs or alcohol to try to feel better temporarily. This is known as self-medication. Also, mental disorders may change the brain to make it more likely you will become addicted.
  • Substance use and addiction can contribute to the development of a mental disorder. Substance use may change the brain in ways that make you more likely to develop a mental disorder.
What are the treatments for dual diagnosis?

Someone with a dual diagnosis must treat both conditions. For the treatment to be effective, you need to stop using alcohol or drugs. Treatments may include behavioral therapies and medicines. Also, support groups can give you emotional and social support. They are also a place where people can share tips about how to deal with day-to-day challenges.

NIH: National Institute on Drug Abuse


Diagnosis, Dual (Psychiatry)
Mental Health and Behavior
Substance Abuse Problems
What is dual diagnosis? A person with dual diagnosis has both a mental disorder and an alcohol or drug problem. These conditions occur ... mental disorder. What are the treatments for dual diagnosis? Someone with a dual diagnosis must treat both ...
Asthma
National Library of Medicine
Bronchial Asthma
What is asthma?

Asthma is a chronic (long-term) lung disease. It affects your airways, the tubes that carry air in and out of your lungs. When you have asthma, your airways can become inflamed and narrowed. This can cause wheezing, coughing, and tightness in your chest. When these symptoms get worse than usual, it is called an asthma attack or flare-up.

What causes asthma?

The exact cause of asthma is unknown. Genetics and your environment likely play a role in who gets asthma.

An asthma attack can happen when you are exposed to an asthma trigger. An asthma trigger is something that can set off or worsen your asthma symptoms. Different triggers can cause different types of asthma:

  • Allergic asthma is caused by allergens. Allergens are substances that cause an allergic reaction. They can include
    • Dust mites
    • Mold
    • Pets
    • Pollen from grass, trees, and weeds
    • Waste from pests such as cockroaches and mice
  • Nonallergic asthma is caused by triggers that are not allergens, such as
    • Breathing in cold air
    • Certain medicines
    • Household chemicals
    • Infections such as colds and the flu
    • Outdoor air pollution
    • Tobacco smoke
  • Occupational asthma is caused by breathing in chemicals or industrial dusts at work
  • Exercise-induced asthma happens during physical exercise, especially when the air is dry

Asthma triggers may be different for each person and can change over time.

Who is at risk for asthma?

Asthma affects people of all ages, but it often starts during childhood. Certain factors can raise your risk of having asthma:

  • Being exposed to secondhand smoke when your mother is pregnant with you or when you are a small child
  • Being exposed to certain substances at work, such as chemical irritants or industrial dusts
  • Genetics and family history. You are more likely to have asthma if one of your parents has it, especially if it's your mother.
  • Race or ethnicity. Black and African Americans and Puerto Ricans are at higher risk of asthma than people of other races or ethnicities.
  • Having other medical conditions such as allergies and obesity
  • Often having viral respiratory infections as a young child
  • Sex. In children, asthma is more common in boys. In teens and adults, it is more common in women.
What are the symptoms of asthma?

The symptoms of asthma include

  • Chest tightness
  • Coughing, especially at night or early morning
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing, which causes a whistling sound when you breathe out

These symptoms can range from mild to severe. You may have them every day or only once in a while.

When you are having an asthma attack, your symptoms get much worse. The attacks may come on gradually or suddenly. Sometimes they can be life-threatening. They are more common in people who have severe asthma. If you are having asthma attacks, you may need a change in your treatment.

How is asthma diagnosed?

Your health care provider may use many tools to diagnose asthma:

  • Physical exam
  • Medical history
  • Lung function tests, including spirometry, to test how well your lungs work
  • Tests to measure how your airways react to specific exposures. During this test, you inhale different concentrations of allergens or medicines that may tighten the muscles in your airways. Spirometry is done before and after the test.
  • Peak expiratory flow (PEF) tests to measure how fast you can blow air out using maximum effort
  • Fractional exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO) tests to measure levels of nitric oxide in your breath when you breathe out. High levels of nitric oxide may mean that your lungs are inflamed.
  • Allergy skin or blood tests, if you have a history of allergies. These tests check which allergens cause a reaction from your immune system.
What are the treatments for asthma?

If you have asthma, you will work with your health care provider to create a treatment plan. The plan will include ways to manage your asthma symptoms and prevent asthma attacks. It will include

  • Strategies to avoid triggers. For example, if tobacco smoke is a trigger for you, you should not smoke or allow other people to smoke in your home or car.
  • Short-term relief medicines, also called quick-relief medicines. They help prevent symptoms or relieve symptoms during an asthma attack. They include an inhaler to carry with you all the time. It may also include other types of medicines which work quickly to help open your airways.
  • Control medicines. You take them every day to help prevent symptoms. They work by reducing airway inflammation and preventing narrowing of the airways.

If you have a severe attack and the short-term relief medicines do not work, you will need emergency care.

Your provider may adjust your treatment until asthma symptoms are controlled.

Sometimes asthma is severe and cannot be controlled with other treatments. If you are an adult with uncontrolled asthma, in some cases your provider might suggest bronchial thermoplasty. This is a procedure that uses heat to shrink the smooth muscle in the lungs. Shrinking the muscle reduces your airway's ability to tighten and allows you to breathe more easily. The procedure has some risks, so it's important to discuss them with your provider.


Asthma
Lungs and Breathing
Immune System
What is asthma? Asthma is a chronic (long-term) lung disease. It affects your airways, the tubes that carry air in and out of your lungs. When you have ...
Asthma in Children
National Library of Medicine
Childhood Asthma
Pediatric asthma
What is asthma?

Asthma is a chronic (long-term) lung disease. It affects your airways, the tubes that carry air in and out of your lungs. When you have asthma, your airways can become inflamed and narrowed. This can cause wheezing, coughing, and tightness in your chest. When these symptoms get worse than usual, it is called an asthma attack or flare-up.

How does asthma affect children?

Asthma often starts during childhood, usually before age 5. Many children have asthma - it is the most common chronic disease of childhood. It can cause children to miss school and end up in the hospital. But treatments can help manage asthma.

What causes asthma in children?

The exact cause of asthma is unknown. Genetics and environment likely play a role in which children get asthma.

An asthma attack can happen when your child is exposed to an asthma trigger. An asthma trigger is something that can set off or worsen asthma symptoms. Different triggers can cause different types of asthma:

  • Allergic asthma is caused by allergens. Allergens are substances that cause an allergic reaction. They can include
    • Dust mites
    • Mold
    • Pets
    • Pollen from grass, trees, and weeds
    • Waste from pests such as cockroaches and mice
  • Nonallergic asthma is caused by triggers that are not allergens, such as
    • Breathing in cold air
    • Certain medicines
    • Household chemicals
    • Infections such as colds and the flu
    • Outdoor air pollution
    • Tobacco smoke
  • Exercise-induced asthma happens during physical exercise, especially when the air is dry

Asthma triggers may be different for each child and can change over time.

Which children are at risk for asthma?

Certain factors raise the risk of asthma in children:

  • Being exposed to secondhand smoke when their mother is pregnant with them or when they are small children
  • Genetics and family history. Children are more likely to have asthma if one of their parents has it, especially if it’s the mother.
  • Race or ethnicity. Black and African Americans and Puerto Ricans are at higher risk of asthma than people of other races or ethnicities.
  • Having other medical conditions such as allergies and obesity
  • Often having viral respiratory infections as young children
  • Sex. In children, asthma is more common in boys. In teens, it is more common in girls.
What are the symptoms of asthma in children?

The symptoms of asthma in children include

  • Chest tightness
  • Coughing, especially at night or early morning
  • Breathing problems, such as shortness of breath, rapid breathing, or gasping for air
  • Feeling tired
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Being irritable
  • Wheezing, which causes a whistling sound when they breathe out
  • Trouble eating or sucking (in infants)

These symptoms can range from mild to severe. They may happen often or only once in a while.

When children have an asthma attack, their symptoms get much worse. The attacks may come on gradually or suddenly. Sometimes they can be life-threatening. Warning signs of a severe attack include severe coughing, serious breathing problems, and turning very pale or blue in the face, lips and/or fingernails. If your child has those symptoms, get medical help right away.

How is asthma in children diagnosed?

It can be hard to diagnose asthma in children, especially if they are young. Asthma has similar symptoms as other childhood conditions. And some children may not have asthma symptoms very often, so it may seem like they are having respiratory infections instead.

Your child's health care provider may use many tools to diagnose asthma:

  • Physical exam
  • Medical history
  • Chest x-ray
  • Lung function tests, including spirometry, to test how well the lungs work. Younger children are usually not able to do these tests.
  • Allergy skin or blood tests, if you have a history of allergies. These tests check which allergens cause a reaction from your immune system.

If you have a young child who cannot do lung function tests, the provider may suggest doing a trial of asthma medicines. The trial involves giving your child the medicines for several weeks to see whether the symptoms get better.

What are the treatments for asthma in children?

IIf your child has asthma, you will work with their health care provider to create a treatment plan. The plan will include ways to manage your child’s asthma symptoms and prevent asthma attacks, such as

  • Strategies to avoid triggers. For example, if tobacco smoke is a trigger for your child, you should not allow anyone to smoke in your home or car.
  • Short-term relief medicines, also called quick-relief medicines. They help prevent symptoms or relieve symptoms during an asthma attack. They include an inhaler to have for your child at all times. It may also include other types of medicines which work quickly to help open your child’s airways.
  • Control medicines. They work by reducing airway inflammation and preventing narrowing of the airways. Not all children will take control medicines. Whether or not your child needs them depends on how severe the asthma is and how often your child has symptoms.

If your child has a severe attack and the short-term relief medicines do not work, get medical help right away.

Your child's provider may adjust the treatment until the asthma symptoms are controlled.


Asthma
Children and Teenagers
Lungs and Breathing
Immune System
What is asthma? Asthma is a chronic (long-term) lung disease. It affects your airways, the tubes that carry air in and out of your lungs. When you have ...
Bipolar Disorder
National Library of Medicine
Bi-polar Disorder
Manic-Depressive Illness
What is bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder that can cause intense mood swings:

  • Sometimes you may feel extremely "up," elated, irritable, or energized. This is called a manic episode.
  • Other times you may feel "down," sad, indifferent, or hopeless. This is called a depressive episode.
  • You may have both manic and depressive symptoms together. This is called a mixed episode.

Along with the mood swings, bipolar disorder causes changes in behavior, energy levels, and activity levels.

Bipolar disorder used to be called other names, including manic depression and manic-depressive disorder.

What are the types of bipolar disorder?

There are three main types of bipolar disorder:

  • Bipolar I disorder involves manic episodes that last at least 7 days or manic symptoms so severe that you need immediate hospital care. Depressive episodes are also common. Those often last at least two weeks. This type of bipolar disorder can also involve mixed episodes.
  • Bipolar II disorder involves depressive episodes. But instead of full-blown manic episodes, there are episodes of hypomania. Hypomania is a less severe version of mania.
  • Cyclothymic disorder, or cyclothymia, also involves hypomanic and depressive symptoms. But they are not as intense or as long-lasting as hypomanic or depressive episodes. The symptoms usually last for at least two years in adults and for one year in children and teenagers.

With any of these types, having four or more episodes of mania or depression in a year is called "rapid cycling."

What causes bipolar disorder?

The exact cause of bipolar disorder is unknown. Several factors likely play a role in the disorder. They include genetics, brain structure and function, and your environment.

Who is at risk for bipolar disorder?

You are at higher risk for bipolar disorder if you have a close relative who has it. Going through trauma or stressful life events may raise this risk even more.

What are the symptoms of bipolar disorder?

The symptoms of bipolar disorder can vary. But they involve mood swings known as mood episodes:

  • The symptoms of a manic episode can include
    • Feeling very up, high, or elated
    • Feeling jumpy or wired, more active than usual
    • Having a very short temper or seeming extremely irritable
    • Having racing thoughts and talking very fast
    • Needing less sleep
    • Feeling like you are unusually important, talented, or powerful
    • Do risky things that show poor judgment, such as eating and drinking too much, spending or giving away a lot of money, or having reckless sex
  • The symptoms of a depressive episode can include
    • Feeling very sad, hopeless, or worthless
    • Feeling lonely or isolating yourself from others
    • Talking very slowly, feeling like you have nothing to say, or forgetting a lot
    • Having little energy
    • Sleeping too much
    • Eating too much or too little
    • Lack of interest in your usual activities and being unable to do even simple things
    • Thinking about death or suicide
  • The symptoms of a mixed episode include both manic and depressive symptoms together. For example, you may feel very sad, empty, or hopeless, while at the same time feeling extremely energized.

Some people with bipolar disorder may have milder symptoms. For example, you may have hypomania instead of mania. With hypomania, you may feel very good and find that you can get a lot done. You may not feel like anything is wrong. But your family and friends may notice your mood swings and changes in activity levels. They may realize that your behavior is unusual for you. After the hypomania, you might have severe depression.

Your mood episodes may last a week or two or sometimes longer. During an episode, symptoms usually occur every day for most of the day.

How is bipolar disorder diagnosed?

To diagnose bipolar disorder, your health care provider may use many tools:

  • A physical exam
  • A medical history, which will include asking about your symptoms, lifetime history, experiences, and family history
  • Medical tests to rule out other conditions
  • A mental health evaluation. Your provider may do the evaluation or may refer you to a mental health specialist to get one.
What are the treatments for bipolar disorder?

Treatment can help many people, including those with the most severe forms of bipolar disorder. The main treatments for bipolar disorder include medicines, psychotherapy, or both:

  • Medicines can help control the symptoms of bipolar disorder. You may need to try several different medicines to find which one works best for you. Some people need to take more than one medicine. It's important to take your medicine consistently. Don't stop taking it without first talking with your provider. Contact your provider if you have any concerns about side effects from the medicines.
  • Psychotherapy (talk therapy) can help you recognize and change troubling emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. It can give you and your family support, education, skills, and coping strategies. There are several different types of psychotherapy that may help with bipolar disorder.
  • Other treatment options include
    • Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), a brain stimulation procedure that can help relieve symptoms. ECT is most often used for severe bipolar disorder that is not getting better with other treatments. It may also be used when someone needs a treatment that will work more quickly than medicines. This might be when a person has a high risk of suicide or is catatonic (unresponsive).
    • Getting regular aerobic exercise may help with depression, anxiety, and trouble sleeping
    • Keeping a life chart can help you and your provider track and treat your bipolar disorder. A life chart is a record of your daily mood symptoms, treatments, sleep patterns, and life events.

Bipolar disorder is a lifelong illness. But long-term, ongoing treatment can help manage your symptoms and enable you to live a healthy, successful life.

NIH: National Institute of Mental Health


Bipolar Disorder
Mental Health and Behavior
What is bipolar disorder? Bipolar disorder is a mood disorder that can cause intense mood swings: Sometimes you may feel extremely "up," elated, irritable, ...
Chronic Bronchitis
National Library of Medicine
Bronchitis
What is chronic bronchitis?

Chronic bronchitis is a type of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). COPD is a group of lung diseases that make it hard to breathe and get worse over time. The other main type of COPD is emphysema. Most people with COPD have both emphysema and chronic bronchitis, but how severe each type is can be different from person to person.

Chronic bronchitis is inflammation (swelling) and irritation of the bronchial tubes. These tubes are the airways that carry air to and from the air sacs in your lungs. The irritation of the tubes causes mucus to build up. This mucus and the swelling of the tubes make it harder for your lungs to move oxygen in and carbon dioxide out of your body.

What causes chronic bronchitis?

The cause of chronic bronchitis is usually long-term exposure to irritants that damage your lungs and airways. In the United States, cigarette smoke is the main cause. Pipe, cigar, and other types of tobacco smoke can also cause chronic bronchitis, especially if you inhale them.

Exposure to other inhaled irritants can contribute to chronic bronchitis. These include secondhand smoke, air pollution, and chemical fumes or dusts from the environment or workplace.

Rarely, a genetic condition called alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency can play a role in causing chronic bronchitis.

Who is at risk for chronic bronchitis?

The risk factors for chronic bronchitis include

  • Smoking. This the main risk factor. Up to 75% of people who have chronic bronchitis smoke or used to smoke.
  • Long-term exposure to other lung irritants, such as secondhand smoke, air pollution, and chemical fumes and dusts from the environment or workplace.
  • Age. Most people who have chronic bronchitis are at least 40 years old when their symptoms begin.
  • Genetics. This includes alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, which is a genetic condition. Also, smokers who get chronic bronchitis are more likely to get it if they have a family history of COPD.
What are the symptoms of chronic bronchitis?

At first, you may have no symptoms or only mild symptoms. As the disease gets worse, your symptoms usually become more severe. They can include

  • Frequent coughing or a cough that produces a lot mucus
  • Wheezing
  • A whistling or squeaky sound when you breathe
  • Shortness of breath, especially with physical activity
  • Tightness in your chest

Some people with chronic bronchitis get frequent respiratory infections such as colds and the flu. In severe cases, chronic bronchitis can cause weight loss, weakness in your lower muscles, and swelling in your ankles, feet, or legs.

How is chronic bronchitis diagnosed?

Your health care provider may use many tools to make a diagnosis:

  • A medical history, which includes asking about your symptoms
  • A family history
  • Various tests, such as lung function tests, a chest x-ray or CT scan, and blood tests
What are the treatments for chronic bronchitis?

There is no cure for chronic bronchitis. However, treatments can help with symptoms, slow the progress of the disease, and improve your ability to stay active. There are also treatments to prevent or treat complications of the disease. Treatments include

  • Lifestyle changes, such as
    • Quitting smoking if you are a smoker. This is the most important step you can take to treat chronic bronchitis.
    • Avoiding secondhand smoke and places where you might breathe in other lung irritants
    • Ask your health care provider for an eating plan that will meet your nutritional needs. Also ask about how much physical activity you can do. Physical activity can strengthen the muscles that help you breathe and improve your overall wellness.
  • Medicines, such as
    • Bronchodilators, which relax the muscles around your airways. This helps open your airways and makes breathing easier. Most bronchodilators are taken through an inhaler. In more severe cases, the inhaler may also contain steroids to reduce inflammation.
    • Vaccines for the flu and pneumococcal pneumonia, since people with chronic bronchitis are at higher risk for serious problems from these diseases.
    • Antibiotics if you get a bacterial or viral lung infection
  • Oxygen therapy, if you have severe chronic bronchitis and low levels of oxygen in your blood. Oxygen therapy can help you breathe better. You may need extra oxygen all the time or only at certain times.
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation, which is a program that helps improve the well-being of people who have chronic breathing problems. It may include
    • An exercise program
    • Disease management training
    • Nutritional counseling
    • Psychological counseling
  • A lung transplant, as a last resort for people who have severe symptoms that have not gotten better with medicines

If you have chronic bronchitis, it's important to know when and where to get help for your symptoms. You should get emergency care if you have severe symptoms, such as trouble catching your breath or talking. Call your health care provider if your symptoms are getting worse or if you have signs of an infection, such as a fever.

Can chronic bronchitis be prevented?

Since smoking causes most cases of chronic bronchitis, the best way to prevent it is to not smoke. It's also important to try to avoid lung irritants such as secondhand smoke, air pollution, chemical fumes, and dusts.

NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute


Bronchitis, Chronic
Infections
Lungs and Breathing
What is chronic bronchitis? Chronic bronchitis is a type of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). COPD is a group of lung diseases that make it ...
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
National Library of Medicine
CFS
ME/CFS
Myalgic Encephalomyelitis
SEID
Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease
What is chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)?

Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a serious, long-term illness that affects many body systems. Another name for it is myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). CFS can often make you unable to do your usual activities. Sometimes you may not even be able to get out of bed.

What causes chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)?

The cause of CFS is unknown. There may be more than one thing that causes it. It is possible that two or more triggers might work together to cause the illness.

Who is at risk for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)?

Anyone can get CFS, but it is most common in people between 40 and 60 years old. Adult women have it more often that adult men. Whites are more likely than other races to get a diagnosis of CFS, but many people with CFS have not been diagnosed with it.

What are the symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)?

CFS symptoms can include

  • Severe fatigue that is not improved by rest
  • Sleep problems
  • Post-exertional malaise (PEM), where your symptoms get worse after any physical or mental activity
  • Problems with thinking and concentrating
  • Pain
  • Dizziness

CFS can be unpredictable. Your symptoms may come and go. They may change over time - sometimes they might get better, and other times they may get worse.

How is chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) diagnosed?

CFS can be difficult to diagnose. There is no specific test for CFS, and other illnesses can cause similar symptoms. Your health care provider has to rule out other diseases before making a diagnosis of CFS. He or she will do a thorough medical exam, including

  • Asking about your medical history and your family's medical history
  • Asking about your current illness, including your symptoms. Your doctor will want to know how often you have symptoms, how bad they are, how long they have lasted, and how they affect your life.
  • A thorough physical and mental status exam
  • Blood, urine, or other tests
What are the treatments for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)?

There is no cure or approved treatment for CFS, but you may be able to treat or manage some of your symptoms. You, your family, and your health care provider should work together to decide on a plan. You should figure out which symptom causes the most problems and try to treat that first. For example, if sleep problems affect you the most, you might first try using good sleep habits. If those do not help, you may need to take medicines or see a sleep specialist.

Strategies such as learning new ways to manage activity can also be helpful. You need to make sure that you do not "push and crash." This can happen when you feel better, do too much, and then get worse again.

Since the process of developing a treatment plan and attending to self-care can be hard if you have CFS, it is important to have support from family members and friends.

Don't try any new treatments without talking to your health care provider. Some treatments that are promoted as cures for CFS are unproven, often costly, and could be dangerous.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention


Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic
Bones, Joints and Muscles
Infections
What is chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS)? Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a serious, long-term illness that affects many body systems. Another name for ...
COPD
National Library of Medicine
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
What is COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)?

COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is a group of lung diseases that make it hard to breathe and get worse over time.

Normally, the airways and air sacs in your lungs are elastic or stretchy. When you breathe in, the airways bring air to the air sacs. The air sacs fill up with air, like a small balloon. When you breathe out, the air sacs deflate, and the air goes out. If you have COPD, less air flows in and out of your airways because of one or more problems:

  • The airways and air sacs in your lungs become less elastic
  • The walls between many of the air sacs are destroyed
  • The walls of the airways become thick and inflamed
  • The airways make more mucus than usual and can become clogged
What are the types of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)?

COPD includes two main types:

  • Emphysema affects the air sacs in your lungs, as well as the walls between them. They become damaged and are less elastic.
  • Chronic bronchitis, in which the lining of your airways is constantly irritated and inflamed. This causes the lining to swell and make mucus.

Most people with COPD have both emphysema and chronic bronchitis, but how severe each type is can be different from person to person.

What causes COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)?

The cause of COPD is usually long-term exposure to irritants that damage your lungs and airways. In the United States, cigarette smoke is the main cause. Pipe, cigar, and other types of tobacco smoke can also cause COPD, especially if you inhale them.

Exposure to other inhaled irritants can contribute to COPD. These include secondhand smoke, air pollution, and chemical fumes or dusts from the environment or workplace.

Rarely, a genetic condition called alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency can play a role in causing COPD.

Who is at risk for COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)?

The risk factors for COPD include

  • Smoking. This the main risk factor. Up to 75% of people who have COPD smoke or used to smoke.
  • Long-term exposure to other lung irritants, such as secondhand smoke, air pollution, and chemical fumes and dusts from the environment or workplace
  • Age. Most people who have COPD are at least 40 years old when their symptoms begin.
  • Genetics. This includes alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, which is a genetic condition. Also, smokers who get COPD are more likely to get it if they have a family history of COPD.
What are the symptoms of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)?

At first, you may have no symptoms or only mild symptoms. As the disease gets worse, your symptoms usually become more severe. They can include

  • Frequent coughing or a cough that produces a lot mucus
  • Wheezing
  • A whistling or squeaky sound when you breathe
  • Shortness of breath, especially with physical activity
  • Tightness in your chest

Some people with COPD get frequent respiratory infections such as colds and the flu. In severe cases, COPD can cause weight loss, weakness in your lower muscles, and swelling in your ankles, feet, or legs.

How is COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) diagnosed?

Your health care provider may use many tools to make a diagnosis:

  • A medical history, which includes asking about your symptoms
  • A family history
  • Various tests, such as lung function tests, a chest x-ray or CT scan, and blood tests

Your doctor will diagnose COPD based on your signs and symptoms, your medical and family histories, and test results.

What are the treatments for COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)?

There is no cure for COPD. However, treatments can help with symptoms, slow the progress of the disease, and improve your ability to stay active. There are also treatments to prevent or treat complications of the disease. Treatments include

  • Lifestyle changes, such as
    • Quitting smoking if you are a smoker. This is the most important step you can take to treat COPD.
    • Avoiding secondhand smoke and places where you might breathe in other lung irritants
    • Ask your health care provider for an eating plan that will meet your nutritional needs. Also ask about how much physical activity you can do. Physical activity can strengthen the muscles that help you breathe and improve your overall wellness.
  • Medicines, such as
    • Bronchodilators, which relax the muscles around your airways. This helps open your airways and makes breathing easier. Most bronchodilators are taken through an inhaler. In more severe cases, the inhaler may also contain steroids to reduce inflammation.
    • Vaccines for the flu and pneumococcal pneumonia, since people with COPD are at higher risk for serious problems from these diseases
    • Antibiotics if you get a bacterial or viral lung infection
  • Oxygen therapy, if you have severe COPD and low levels of oxygen in your blood. Oxygen therapy can help you breathe better. You may need extra oxygen all the time or only at certain times.
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation, which is a program that helps improve the well-being of people who have chronic breathing problems. It may include
    • An exercise program
    • Disease management training
    • Nutritional counseling
    • Psychological counseling
  • Surgery, usually as a last resort for people who have severe symptoms that have not gotten better with medicines:
    • For COPD that is mainly related to emphysema, there are surgeries that
      • Remove damaged lung tissue
      • Remove large air spaces (bullae) that can form when air sacs are destroyed. The bullae can interfere with breathing.
    • For severe COPD, some people may need lung transplant

If you have COPD, it's important to know when and where to get help for your symptoms. You should get emergency care if you have severe symptoms, such as trouble catching your breath or talking. Call your health care provider if your symptoms are getting worse or if you have signs of an infection, such as a fever.

Can COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) be prevented?

Since smoking causes most cases of COPD, the best way to prevent it is to not smoke. It's also important to try to avoid lung irritants such as secondhand smoke, air pollution, chemical fumes, and dusts.

NIH: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute


Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive
Older Adults
Lungs and Breathing
What is COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)? COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) is a group of lung diseases that make it hard to breathe ...
Crohn's Disease
National Library of Medicine
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Regional Enteritis
Regional Ileitis
What is Crohn's disease?

Crohn's disease is a chronic disease that causes inflammation in your digestive tract. It can affect any part of your digestive tract, which runs from your mouth to your anus. But it usually affects your small intestine and the beginning of your large intestine.

Crohn's disease is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Ulcerative colitis and microscopic colitis are other common types of IBD.

What causes Crohn's disease?

The cause of Crohn's disease is unknown. Researchers think that an autoimmune reaction may be one cause. An autoimmune reaction happens when your immune system attacks healthy cells in your body. Genetics may also play a role, since Crohn's disease can run in families.

Stress and eating certain foods don't cause the disease, but they can make your symptoms worse.

Who is at risk for Crohn's disease?

There are certain factors which can raise your risk of Crohn's disease:

  • Family history of the disease. Having a parent, child, or sibling with the disease puts you at higher risk.
  • Smoking. This may double your risk of developing Crohn's disease.
  • Certain medicines, such as antibiotics, birth-control pills, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as aspirin or ibuprofen. These may slightly increase your chance of developing Crohn's.
  • A high-fat diet. This may also slightly increase your risk of Crohn's.
What are the symptoms of Crohn's disease?

The symptoms of Crohn's disease can vary, depending where and how severe your inflammation is. The most common symptoms include

  • Diarrhea
  • Cramping and pain in your abdomen
  • Weight loss

Some other possible symptoms are

  • Anemia, a condition in which you have fewer red blood cells than normal
  • Eye redness or pain
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Joint pain or soreness
  • Nausea or loss of appetite
  • Skin changes that involve red, tender bumps under the skin

Stress and eating certain foods such as carbonated drinks and high-fiber foods may make some people's symptoms worse.

What other problems can Crohn's disease cause?

Crohn's disease can cause other problems, including

  • Intestinal obstruction, a blockage in the intestine
  • Fistulas, abnormal connections between two parts inside of the body
  • Abscesses, pus-filled pockets of infection
  • Anal fissures, small tears in your anus that may cause itching, pain, or bleeding
  • Ulcers, open sores in your mouth, intestines, anus, or perineum
  • Malnutrition, when your body does not get the right amount of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients it needs
  • Inflammation in other areas of your body, such as your joints, eyes, and skin
How is Crohn's disease diagnosed?

Your health care provider may use many tools to make a diagnosis:

  • A medical history, which includes asking about your symptoms
  • A family history
  • A physical exam, including
    • Checking for bloating in your abdomen
    • Listening to sounds within your abdomen using a stethoscope
    • Tapping on your abdomen to check for tenderness and pain and to see if your liver or spleen is abnormal or enlarged
  • Various tests, including
    • Blood and stool tests
    • A colonoscopy
    • An upper GI endoscopy, a procedure in which your provider uses a scope to look inside your mouth, esophagus, stomach, and small intestine
    • Diagnostic imaging tests, such as a CT scan or an upper GI series. An upper GI series uses a special liquid called barium and x-rays. Drinking the barium will make your upper GI tract more visible on an x-ray.
What are the treatments for Crohn's disease?

There is no cure for Crohn's disease, but treatments can decrease the inflammation in your intestines, relieve symptoms, and prevent complications. Treatments include medicines, bowel rest, and surgery. No single treatment works for everyone. You and your health care provider can work together to figure out which treatment is best for you:

  • Medicines for Crohn's include various medicines that decrease the inflammation. Some of these medicines do this by reducing the activity of your immune system. Medicines can also help with symptoms or complications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and anti-diarrheal medicines. If your Crohn's causes an infection, you may need antibiotics.
  • Bowel rest involves drinking only certain liquids or not eating or drinking anything. This allows your intestines to rest. You may need to do this if your Crohn's disease symptoms are severe. You get your nutrients through drinking a liquid, a feeding tube, or an intravenous (IV) tube. You may need to do bowel rest in the hospital, or you may be able to do it at home. It will last for a few days or up to several weeks.
  • Surgery can treat complications and reduce symptoms when other treatments are not helping enough. The surgery will involve removing a damaged part of your digestive tract to treat
    • Fistulas
    • Bleeding that is life threatening
    • Intestinal obstructions
    • Side effects from medicines when they threaten your health
    • Symptoms when medicines do not improve your condition

Changing your diet can help reduce symptoms. Your provider may recommend that you make changes to your diet, such as

  • Avoiding carbonated drinks
  • Avoiding popcorn, vegetable skins, nuts, and other high-fiber foods
  • Drinking more liquids
  • Eating smaller meals more often
  • Keeping a food diary to help identify foods that cause problems

Some people also need go on special diet, such as a low-fiber diet.

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases


Crohn Disease
Digestive System
What is Crohn's disease? Crohn's disease is a chronic disease that causes inflammation in your digestive tract. It can affect any part of your digestive ...
Delirium
National Library of Medicine
What is delirium?

Delirium is a mental state in which you are confused, disoriented, and not able to think or remember clearly. It usually starts suddenly. It is often temporary and treatable.

There are three types of delirium:

  • Hypoactive, where you are not active and seem sleepy, tired, or depressed
  • Hyperactive, where you are restless or agitated
  • Mixed, where you change back and forth between being hypoactive and hyperactive
What causes delirium?

There are many different problems that can cause delirium. Some of the more common causes include

  • Alcohol or drugs, either from intoxication or withdrawal. This includes a serious type of alcohol withdrawal syndrome called delirium tremens. It usually happens to people who stop drinking after years of alcohol abuse.
  • Dehydration and electrolyte imbalances
  • Dementia
  • Hospitalization, especially in intensive care
  • Infections, such as urinary tract infections, pneumonia, and the flu
  • Medicines. This could be a side effect of a medicine, such as sedatives or opioids. Or it could be withdrawal after stopping a medicine.
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Organ failure, such as kidney or liver failure
  • Poisoning
  • Serious illnesses
  • Severe pain
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Surgeries, including reactions to anesthesia
Who is at risk for delirium?

Certain factors put you at risk for delirium, including

  • Being in a hospital or nursing home
  • Dementia
  • Having a serious illness or more than one illness
  • Having an infection
  • Older age
  • Surgery
  • Taking medicines that affect the mind or behavior
  • Taking high doses of pain medicines, such as opioids
What are the symptoms of delirium?

The symptoms of delirium usually start suddenly, over a few hours or a few days. They often come and go. The most common symptoms include

  • Changes in alertness (usually more alert in the morning, less at night)
  • Changing levels of consciousness
  • Confusion
  • Disorganized thinking, talking in a way that doesn't make sense
  • Disrupted sleep patterns, sleepiness
  • Emotional changes: anger, agitation, depression, irritability, overexcitement
  • Hallucinations and delusions
  • Incontinence
  • Memory problems, especially with short-term memory
  • Trouble concentrating
How is delirium diagnosed?

Your health care provider may use many tools to make a diagnosis:

  • A medical history, which includes asking about your symptoms
  • Physical and neurological exams
  • Mental status testing
  • Lab and diagnostic imaging tests

Delirium and dementia have similar symptoms, so it can be hard to tell them apart. They can also occur together. Delirium starts suddenly and can cause hallucinations. The symptoms may get better or worse and can last for hours or weeks. On the other hand, dementia develops slowly and does not cause hallucinations. The symptoms are stable and may last for months or years.

What are the treatments for delirium?

Treatment of delirium focuses on the causes and symptoms of delirium. The first step is to identify the cause. Often, treating the cause will lead to a full recovery. The recovery may take some time - weeks or sometimes even months. In the meantime, there may be treatments to manage the symptoms, such as

  • Controlling the environment, which includes making sure that the room is quiet and well-lit, having clocks or calendars in view, and having family members around
  • Medicines, including those that control aggression or agitation and pain relievers if there is pain
  • If needed, making sure that the person has a hearing aid, glasses, or other devices for communication
Can delirium be prevented?

Treating the conditions that can cause delirium may reduce the risk of getting it. Hospitals can help lower the risk of delirium by avoiding sedatives and making sure that the room is kept quiet, calm, and well-lit. It can also help to have family members around and to have the same staff members treat the person.


Delirium
Mental Health and Behavior
Brain and Nerves
What is delirium? Delirium is a mental state in which you are confused, disoriented, and not able to think or remember clearly. It usually starts suddenly. ...
Dementia
National Library of Medicine
Senility
What is dementia?

Dementia is a loss of mental functions that is severe enough to affect your daily life and activities. These functions include

  • Memory
  • Language skills
  • Visual perception (your ability to make sense of what you see)
  • Problem solving
  • Trouble with everyday tasks
  • The ability to focus and pay attention

It is normal to become a bit more forgetful as you age. But dementia is not a normal part of aging. It is a serious disorder which interferes with your daily life.

What are the types of dementia?

The most common types of dementia are known as neurodegenerative disorders. These are diseases in which the cells of the brain stop working or die. They include

  • Alzheimer's disease, which is the most common form of dementia among older people. People with Alzheimer's have plaques and tangles in their brain. These are abnormal buildups of different proteins. Beta-amyloid protein clumps up and forms plaques in between your brain cells. Tau protein builds up and forms tangles inside the nerve cells of your brain. There is also a loss of connection between nerve cells in the brain.
  • Lewy body dementia, which causes movement symptoms along with dementia. Lewy bodies are abnormal deposits of a protein in the brain.
  • Frontotemporal disorders, which cause changes to certain parts of the brain:
    • Changes in the frontal lobe lead to behavioral symptoms
    • Changes in the temporal lobe lead to language and emotional disorders
  • Vascular dementia, which involves changes to the brain's blood supply. It is often caused by a stroke or atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) in the brain.
  • Mixed dementia, which is a combination of two or more types of dementia. For example, some people have both Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia.

Other conditions can cause dementia or dementia-like symptoms, including

  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a rare brain disorder
  • Huntington's disease, an inherited, progressive brain disease
  • Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), caused by repeated traumatic brain injury
  • HIV-associated dementia (HAD)
Who is at risk for dementia?

Certain factors can raise your risk for developing dementia, including

  • Aging. This is the biggest risk factor for dementia.
  • Smoking
  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Having close family members who have dementia
What are the symptoms of dementia?

The symptoms of dementia can vary, depending on which parts of the brain are affected. Often, forgetfulness is the first symptom. Dementia also causes problems with the ability to think, problem solve, and reason. For example, people with dementia may

  • Get lost in a familiar neighborhood
  • Use unusual words to refer to familiar objects
  • Forget the name of a close family member or friend
  • Forget old memories
  • Need help doing tasks that they used to do by themselves

Some people with dementia cannot control their emotions and their personalities may change. They may become apathetic, meaning that they are no longer interested in normal daily activities or events. They may lose their inhibitions and stop caring about other peoples' feelings.

Certain types of dementia can also cause problems with balance and movement.

The stages of dementia range from mild to severe. In the mildest stage, it is just beginning to affect a person's functioning. In the most severe stage, the person is completely dependent on others for care.

How is dementia diagnosed?

Your health care provider may use many tools to make a diagnosis:

  • A medical history, which includes asking about your symptoms
  • A physical exam
  • Tests of your thinking, memory, and language abilities
  • Other tests, such as blood tests, genetic tests, and brain scans
  • A mental health evaluation to see whether a mental disorder is contributing to your symptoms
What are the treatments for dementia?

There is no cure for most types of dementia, including Alzheimer's disease and Lewy body dementia. Treatments may help to maintain mental function longer, manage behavioral symptoms, and slow down the symptoms of disease. They may include

  • Medicines may temporarily improve memory and thinking or slow down their decline. They only work in some people. Other medicines can treat symptoms such as anxiety, depression, sleep problems, and muscle stiffness. Some of these medicines can cause strong side effects in people with dementia. It is important to talk to your health care provider about which medicines will be safe for you.
  • Occupational therapy to help find ways to more easily do everyday activities
  • Speech therapy to help with swallowing difficulties and trouble speaking loudly and clearly
  • Mental health counseling to help people with dementia and their families learn how to manage difficult emotions and behaviors. It can also help them plan for the future.
  • Music or art therapy to reduce anxiety and improve well-being
Can dementia be prevented?

Researchers have not found a proven way to prevent dementia. Living a healthy lifestyle might influence some of your risk factors for dementia.


Dementia
Mental Health and Behavior
Older Adults
Brain and Nerves
What is dementia? Dementia is a loss of mental functions that is severe enough to affect your daily life and activities. These functions include Memory ...