What Is the Circadian Rhythm And How Does It Affect Sleep?

circadian rhythm sleep disorder

If you have trouble getting to sleep or waking up at a normal hour, then you may have heard someone tell you that your circadian rhythm may be off. But what is circadian rhythm exactly? How does this sleep disorder affect your ability to sleep?

The short answer is that your circadian rhythm is your internal body clock, a roughly 24-hour cycle that dictates when you feel drowsy and when you feel alert. According to Dr. Rolando Sanchez, “the circadian rhythm is a cycle of hormones that tells you when to sleep. Some people, such as overnight workers, are more prone to have circadian problems.”

 

How Does the Circadian Rhythm Disorder Work?

So what are circadian rhythms? The word circadian comes from two Latin words circa (meaning around) and Diem (meaning day), which means that a circadian rhythm is any endogenous biological timing mechanism that works on a 24-hour cycle. Endogenous means that it is internal and self-sustained, but in the case of human circadian rhythm it is also regulated and adjusted by external factors such as exposure to sunlight, temperatures, and sleep schedule.

The circadian rhythm is regulated by the hypothalamus, a region in the brain. The hypothalamus is the area of the brain that is responsible for the creation of many hormones and the maintenance of homeostasis, or the body’s status quo. Hypothalamic hormones regulate temperature, thirst, hunger, mood, sex drive, and sleep. The hypothalamus is also responsible for distributing hormones throughout the rest of the body.

Melatonin is one of these hormones that is regulated in the hypothalamus. Melatonin is distributed in accordance with light exposure. At night, when it is dark your eyes send a signal to your hypothalamus which then sends a signal to the body to release melatonin which makes you tired. This tends to happen relative to the 24-hour cycle of the circadian rhythm, but that rhythm can get out of sync if a person is habitually not exposed to light.

> Sleep Medicine Treatment Options

 

Circadian Rhythm Disorders:

The key feature of circadian rhythm sleep disorder is continuous or occasional disruptions in sleep patterns. To put it simply, they are disruptions in a person’s circadian rhythm. These disorders come in a few different forms, but they are usually caused by a mismatch in the hormone cycle of the rhythm and the external factors that influence it. So, people who work nonstandard hours or live in areas that stay light or dark for extended periods of time are most likely to be affected.

Scientists are still doing research on circadian rhythm sleep, and other possible causes and risk factors for disorders. Some studies suggest depression, obesity, diabetes, and bipolar disorder as being linked to circadian rhythm disorders. Let’s look at a few common disorders:

  • Jet Lag: You have probably experienced this or known someone who has experienced jet lag but never known that it is a disorder of your circadian rhythm. The conflict between the body’s internal rhythm and the new time zone can cause disruptions in sleep patterns. But this condition typically goes away in a short amount of time.

  • Shift Work Disorder: This affects people who frequently rotate shifts or work at night. Forcing yourself to stay awake all night habitually can cause the mismatch in your body clock that disrupts sleep patterns and leads to insomnia and excessive sleepiness.

  • Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder: This disorder typically occurs in adolescents and young adults. It results in people who cannot get to bed until 2 a.m. or later, and can lead to impairment at work or school and daytime sleepiness. Unlike jet lag, this is a recurring condition that can persist for years.

  • Advanced Sleep Phase Disorder: This disorder is typically seen in the elderly. It can be identified by early bedtimes and early morning awakening. People with this disorder may wake up at 3 a.m. and not be able to get back to sleep. This is also a recurring condition that can persist for years.

  • Narcolepsy: Narcolepsy can be a serious problem in which people experience intense daytime sleepiness and uncontrollable episodes of falling asleep in the daytime despite getting adequate sleep at night.


More Information on Circadian Rhythm Disorder

Sleep deprivation can be a very serious thing, and if you experience it you should undergo a sleep study to see what is causing it. The Pulmonary Associates of Brandon offer state of the art equipment and comfortable environments to undergo sleep studies and get you on the way to restful, normal sleep.

Common Lung Infections Treated at Pulmonary Associates of Brandon

common lung infections treated at tampa pulmonary

According to the National Institute of Health, in a normal day a person takes about 25,000 breaths. The importance of the lungs to general health cannot be overstated. The lungs help to oxygenate your blood and expel carbon dioxide, two extremely vital bodily processes. The oxygen in red blood cells is transported throughout the body and is a necessary component of almost every cellular process that occurs.

Without properly functioning lungs, overall health decreases considerably. There are many different types of lung diseases, but some of the most deadly and dangerous lung diseases are lung infections. Fortunately our Tampa pulmonary group is here to offer treatment options for even the most challenging cases.

Let’s look at some common lung infections, and symptoms of pulmonary issues:

 

Treating Bronchitis in Tampa

Bronchitis

Bronchitis is the infection and inflammation of the bronchi, which are the medium and large airways in the lungs. Bronchitis is typically a viral infection, however, in some cases the cause is air pollution or bacteria. Acute bronchitis is an extremely common infection. It is often referred to as a “chest cold” and typically goes away within a few weeks. But, if bronchitis occurs often or for extended periods of time, then a patient might have “chronic bronchitis” and should seek medical attention and treatment.

Symptoms of bronchitis include a productive cough (with yellow or green mucus), runny or stuffy nose, fatigue, sore ribs from prolonged coughing, wheezing, and a whistling sound when breathing.

 

Bronchiolitis

Bronchiolitis is similar to bronchitis, except it is the infection and inflammation of bronchioles, which are the smallest air passageways of the lungs. Bronchiolitis is almost always a viral infection and mostly affects children and infants. It can present in adults, however it is rare and very serious. Bronchiolitis can cause scarring of the bronchioles and other lung tissue.

The symptoms of bronchiolitis are similar to those of bronchitis. They include shortness of breath, wheezing, fatigue, cough, fast breathing, cracking or rattling sounds heard in the lungs, and bluish appearance of the skin from lack of oxygen.

> Explore all Tampa Pulmonary Services

 

Pneumonia

Pneumonia is an inflammatory infection of the alveoli in the lungs. According to Dr. Hooker, “pneumonia is a tricky infection because it can be either bacterial, viral, or fungal.” The alveoli are microscopic air sacs in the lungs, which are invaluable to blood oxygenation. Pneumonia causes these sacs to fill up with fluid and impedes their function.

There are over 30 types of pneumonia, and they are typically classified into groups based on their cause. Bacteria, viruses, inhalation of toxins, and fungi can all be causes of pneumonia. Some pneumonia can be overcome without medication at home, however, other treatments include antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medications, and other over the counter treatments.

The pulmonary symptoms of pneumonia can vary. Common symptoms include coughing (often mucus producing), fever, shaking, chills, fast breathing, shallow breathing, chest pain, fast heartbeat, nausea, and fatigue.

 

Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection of the lungs that used to be extremely common, and then became very uncommon. However, according to Dr. Lorch, “tuberculosis has become more common in the recent past in AIDS patients and other patients with compromised immune systems, such as individuals undergoing chemotherapy.”

Tuberculosis is a very serious condition, but thankfully, it is rare in otherwise healthy adults in the United States. Symptoms of tuberculosis include coughing that lasts for three or more weeks, coughing up blood, chest pain, unintentional weight loss, fatigue, fever, chills, and loss of appetite. TB can also affect your kidneys, spine, and brain.


Pulmonary Associates of Brandon

If you are experiencing lung disease symptoms in the Tampa Bay area, then you can go to the Pulmonary Associates of Brandon. Their highly trained staff can perform a range of diagnostic testing such as pulmonary function tests and chest x-rays to determine whether or not you have a lung infection, and how to treat it.

Night Terror or Nightmare: When You Should See a Sleep Specialist

night terror sleep disorders

Was that terrifying dream you had last night a night terror? First you have to ask yourself, “What is a night terror?” There is actually a huge difference between night terrors and nightmares, which we’ll explore. Also, we’ve listed out some tips to help you determine when you should seek a doctor’s help for your night terrors.

 

How Nightmares and Night Terrors Differ:

  • Nightmares make people wake up from their dreams.

  • Night terrors occur when people remain asleep. It is extremely difficult to wake up someone having a night terror and we don’t recommend that you do so.


  • Nightmares typically occur in the last half of the night, during REM sleep.
  • Night terrors typically occur in the first half of the night.


  • Nightmares can cause people to thrash about, cry, kick, talk or even yell in their sleep; however, these actions rarely result in injury.
  • Night terrors can cause people to sit up in bed, scream, kick, sweat, stare with open eyes, run about and even have aggressive behavior.

Check out the movie clip below from Step Brothers for a clearly exaggerated example of the difference between night terrors and nightmares....


When You Should Seek Help For Night Terrors

Consult your doctor if your night terrors:

  • Grow in frequency and become “the norm” especially as your mature into adulthood

  • Consistently disrupt the sleep of you or others to a point that it is impacting your life

  • Make you or others afraid to fall asleep

  • Cause you to be violent, leading to injury of yourself or others

  • Appear to follow the same pattern each time you experience night terrors


It is important to understand the difference between nightmares and night terrors, so if you’re still unsure of what you’re experiencing, it’s safer to ask your physician. If the symptoms of your night terrors are persistently and negatively impacting your life, it is time to get help. In many cases, a sleep study can quickly identify the issue and our sleep specialists can recommend the best source for treatment. Luckily, if you currently have night terrors or know someone who does, they can stop by themselves from time to time. If the problem has persisted for a couple of months, or has gotten worse, we recommend that you speak to your physician.

6 Things You Didn’t Know About COPD

copd emphysema facts

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, more commonly known as COPD, is caused by inhaling pollutants, second-hand smoke, and genetics. Signs of COPD are breathlessness, wheezing and constant coughing, and tightness in the chest. These symptoms can easily be confused with a simple cold or just the effects of getting older, but COPD can get worse as time goes on and is highly recommended to get treated. 

If diagnosed with COPD, do not get discouraged. There are many treatments and ways to slow progression. It is a growing disease that doctors are very familiar with, so you should never feel as if your case is a lost cause.

Read More: Can I Still Get COPD If I Don’t Smoke?


You may have heard the acronym before, but here are 6 things you didn’t know about COPD:

  1. Almost 12 million Americans have been diagnosed with the disease.

  2. It kills 120,000 people in America every year. This places it as the third leading cause of death in the country.

  3. A healthy diet can actually help lower your risk for getting COPD later in life. Eat foods that are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamins A, C, and E.

  4. Working out and getting regular exercise can help lower your risk or improve symptoms if you have already been diagnosed. During the exercise, you could experience heavy coughing and aggravation, but it helps in the long term.

  5. Although smokers are at a higher risk, all people over 40 can be affected and should talk to their doctors if any symptoms are experienced.

  6. Emphysema goes hand in hand with COPD and is a lung disease with the same symptoms.


 If you or someone you know is worried about their lung health, seeing a pulmonologist is always a good idea. A pulmonologist is a specialized doctor that treat a numerous amount of lung diseases and can give patients options on how to reduce symptoms that might be putting a hold on their day to day life.

Can I Still Get COPD & Emphysema as a Non-Smoker?

COPD as a non-smoker

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, more commonly known as COPD, is a disease that makes breathing more difficult as time passes. Symptoms are constant coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and tightness in the chest. Emphysema is another name for this long-term disease that affects about 11 million people in the United States. 

What are causes of COPD?

The most common cause of COPD is smoking. In fact, over 80 percent of COPD patients suffer because of their smoking habits. The chemicals in cigarettes ruin the defense system in your lungs and can weaken and narrow the airways causing the symptoms listed before. 

Are Non-Smokers Safe from COPD?

Although smoking is the number one cause to this disease, it is not the only one. Non-smokers can suffer, too. It is not as likely, but it is possible and new non-smoking patients are added to the 11 million existing COPD sufferers every day.

What causes COPD if you're not a smoker?

  • The environment - The environment is one reason for non-smokers getting COPD. Though these patients are not purposefully inhaling chemicals and toxins, they are breathing in everyday air that holds these things. Air pollution cannot be avoided in today’s world. Chemicals can enter a person’s body without them even knowing it. Over time, this is what can lead to the chest disease.
  •  Genetics - Genetics can also cause non-smokers to have COPD. There is only one genetic deficiency known right now that causes this disease. This inherited deficiency is called Alpha-1 antitrypsin and can lead to lung and liver disease. 
  • Asthma - Asthma that goes untreated for a long time can also be a reason a non-smoker gets diagnosed with COPD. Asthma is a respiratory condition that can weaken the system over time. Without treatment, asthma can lead to other internal issues, such as COPD. Effects of asthma are very similar to the symptoms of COPD and should be watched carefully. 

If a person is experiencing any breathing problems that are out of the ordinary and seem like the symptoms of COPD or an obvious decrease in lung health, they should consult a pulmonologist no matter their smoking history. COPD is serious and has led to many deaths. The sooner the diagnosis, the sooner treatments can be started.

Is Restless Leg Syndrome Real?

restless leg syndrome treatment

Restless leg syndrome is a common syndrome that often goes undiagnosed and even unrecognized in many people. Restless leg syndrome—or RLS—is characterized by uncomfortable sensations within the legs that urge a person to move. These symptoms are worse at night and many people suffering from RLS experience disturbances in their sleep or inability to fall asleep.  

Restless leg syndrome is often misdiagnosed or unrecognized in patients. Often considered a sleep disorder, RLS disturbs a person’s sleep pervasively. Despite some common misconceptions, RLS is very real and can take a toll on sufferers. Still, the condition has attracted little attention from the medical community and common knowledge at large due to a number of reasons.

Here are some common misconceptions about restless leg syndrome that could be contributing to a bigger sleep disorder or health issue.

It’s trivial:

Many consider RLS an insignificant condition regarded as nothing more than an inconvenience to the person experiencing symptoms. Others regard the compelled movement in the legs as “natural” and therefore not necessarily a medical condition. Despite these beliefs, the insomnia caused by RLS can have real and intense effects on patients down the line.

It’s in your head:

Unfortunately for patients with restless leg syndrome, many have been told their symptoms are in their head and not a result of a medical ailment. This potentially stems from the inability of patients to properly describe the sensations they feel in a meaningful way that would spark a medical diagnosis from a sleep specialist.  Patients may also delay obtaining a diagnosis because they aren’t sure they’d be believed.

There is no good treatment:

Another misconception about RLS diagnosis is that it’s seemingly pointless because there is no good sleep disorder treatment aimed at RLS. There are both homeopathic and prescription treatments for those with RLS, as well as life changes you can make today to improve your sleep naturally.

If you or someone you know is experiencing persistent insomnia due to indescribable sensations deep within the legs, characterized by a jerking motion or uncontrollable movement in the legs, make an appointment at your local sleep center and speak with a specialist who can help.

9 Questions to Ask Your Pulmonologist at Your First Appointment

pulmonologist faqs

If your primary care doctor suggests you may have a lung or breathing ailment such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD, you may be referred to a pulmonologist, or a doctor who specializes in lung disorders. If you’ve never been to see a pulmonologist before, it would be wise to prepare yourself for the initial appointment with a list of questions to ask. By arming yourself with the best possible arsenal to obtain information, you will be better equipped to handle any diagnosis. Here are some questions to ask your doctor during your visit.

  1. Can you explain the tests you are running? Understanding the tests that will be run will help you to better prepare for them.
  2. What’s my Diagnosis? This may seem like something you don’t even need to ask, but to be certain, I would
  3. What is likely causing or worsening my symptoms? Asking this question ensures that if there are certain behaviors that are causing a flare up of your symptoms, you can deviate or avoid these behaviors.
  4. What is an appropriate level of physical activity for my diagnosis? Be ready to talk to your pulmonary specialist about your diet or exercise regimen and any challenges you may experience starting one.
  5. How often should I be screened for changes? This is an important question to ask regarding maintenance for your condition. Knowing when to follow up with your doctor is an important part of maintaining lung health and keeping any chronic pulmonary diseases under control.  
  6. Are you prescribing me anything for the symptoms? It’s important to understand any medications you will be prescribed as well as any side effects of the medication.
  7. Are there things I can do to manage this (chronic) condition? Ask what types of habits and activities you can do on your own time to keep your condition under control or even lessen some of the symptoms of your illness.
  8. Are there any additional restrictions for my diagnosis? Be sure to ask and understand any restrictions that your illness may pose to your current regimen.
  9. What should I do if my symptoms increase? Ask your doctor when to contact them when symptoms worsen to avoid an unnecessary trip to the ER.

In addition to asking the right questions during the appointment, it’s essential to be prepared before the appointment as well. Here are some things you can do to prepare for your first appointment with a pulmonology specialist.

  • Write down all symptoms you have experienced

  • Take note of what things make your symptoms worse or better

  • Ask family members if anyone has experienced similar symptoms or were diagnosed with a chronic lung disease

  • List any medications you are currently taking

  • See if a family member or close friend can accompany you to your appointment

Preparing for your first appointment with a pulmonologist is critical to receiving the best possible care. By asking the right questions and educating yourself on your diagnosis, you will be better able to maintain your condition and suppress your symptoms. Be sure to write down these questions and bring them with you so you don’t forget to ask anything!


ASK OUR PULMONOLOGISTS A QUESTION:

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How to Sleep Well When Switching Time Zones

common sleep issues

Whether you’re busy racking up frequent flier miles traveling for work or just enjoy spending your vacation time jet-setting to distant locations, chances are you’ve experienced some jet lag. This is especially common when traveling to different time zones. Every day, millions of travelers struggle against jet lag, one of the most common sleep issues.

Studies have shown that the condition of jet lag results from disruptions to your body’s 24-hour circadian rhythm—otherwise known as your biological clock--caused by traveling to a different time zone. When traveling to a new time zone, our circadian rhythms are slow to adjust and remain on their original schedule for a few days. The outcome is difficulty falling asleep according to a new time schedule. You might be wondering how to get a good night sleep while also being able to travel to new time zones.

The good news is some simple behavioral adjustments can help minimize the side effects of jet lag.

Revamp Your Sleep Schedule
Anticipate time changes by getting up and going to bed earlier or later in the days prior to adjust to the new time zone. Try to avoid naps or going to bed right when you arrive, as these practices may keep you up longer.

Change Your Watch
While on the plane, be sure to adjust your watch to reflect the time zone you’re traveling to. Most Smartphones will automatically correct to the new time zone once you land.

Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol
Avoiding caffeine—or alcohol, for that matter—at least 3-4 hours before bed can help you avoid stimulant-caused issues with sleeping. Alcohol has also been known to worsen the symptoms of jet lag.

Stay Hydrated
Changes in altitude can dehydrate you more easily, whether it’s while on the plan or if you’re heading to a place at higher altitude. Be sure to drink plenty of water before and during your flight. Dehydration makes it more difficult for your body to adjust to a new rhythm.

Read More: What Is The Difference Between Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Central Sleep Apnea?

Exercise—But Early
Exercise or movement during the day may help you fall asleep more easily in a new time zone. But be sure to avoid exercising too close to bedtime, which will most likely keep you awake.

Get Outside
When possible, try to get outside and be in the sunlight. Daylight is a powerful tool for regulating or resetting your biological clock and balancing your circadian rhythm.

Block it Out
Bringing earplugs and a sleep mask will help to reduce noise and block out the light while attempting to fall asleep.

Avoid Travel-Related Stress
Bringing elements of home, like your favorite pillow or blanket, can ease the nagging feeling of being in a new environment. Have the front desk send any hotel calls to voicemail and request a wake-up call in the morning in case you sleep through your alarm.

Find Your Perfect Sleep Environment
Whether we realize or not, most of us are affected by changes to temperature, noise, altitude, sleep surface and other environmental factors. Be cognizant of which factors affect you and ensure that you do your best to make your sleep environment a nurturing one.

Adjusting to time zones can be tricky, but if you practice these tips coping with or avoiding jet lag can be a much easier feat.

4 Ways To Improve Your Lung Functioning

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The lungs are a vital part of the body, and maintaining lung health is one of the most important ways to take care of your body. Taking care of your lungs is easy and simple; there are a number of ways to improve your lung functioning in your everyday life. But first, let’s take a look at what the lungs are and what they do.

What do lungs do?

Your lungs are essential respiratory organs. They are located on either side of the heart near your backbone. The primary function of the lungs is to absorb oxygen from the air you breathe and transport it into your bloodstream. They also transport carbon dioxide from your blood and release it into the atmosphere through exhalation. In just one day the average person breathes 25,000 times, so the lungs are always working at their vitally important job. Having healthy lungs is absolutely key to being in good health.

How can I improve my lung functioning?

1. Quit Smoking: At this point, it is common knowledge that smoking is harmful to your body and especially your lungs. Keeping in mind how vital your lungs are for maintaining good health, smoking seems especially dangerous. And it isn’t just cancer, smoking can also narrow your air passageways, therefore, decreasing the air that you can breathe in and limiting oxygen flow to your blood. This can also make it difficult or uncomfortable to breathe. It can be extremely difficult to stop smoking, but your lungs will thank you for it.

2. Aerobic Exercise: Dr. Catherine Phillips MD says that, “aerobic exercise increases your lung volume and aerobic capacity.” Aerobic exercise is often referred to as “cardio,” and it is defined as exercise that requires pumping of oxygenated blood by the heart to working muscles over a sustained period of time. Aerobic exercise raises your heart rate to a certain level and then the heart rate stays near there for the duration of the exercise. Examples of aerobic exercise are running, swimming, cycling, rowing, etc. Anaerobic exercises are characterized by short bursts of intensity such as power lifting and short sprints.

3. Concentrated Deep Breathing: Three to five minutes of concentrated deep breathing done once or multiple times throughout the day can drastically improve lung function. Just inhale for six seconds and exhale for eight. This simple exercise can increase the oxygen in your blood, decreases the heart rate, and helps both your pulmonary and cardiovascular systems.

4. Improve Indoor Air: If the air in your home is dirty or contains chemicals or mold, then your lungs might be hurting for some clean oxygen. Oxygen is essential to lung functioning, and adding an air purifier or a few houseplants to your living space can clean up the air and allow you to breathe easier. Not only do plants turn carbon dioxide in the atmosphere into breathable oxygen, they also filter out some harmful organic compounds such as formaldehyde and benzene. Simple houseplants are like all-natural air filters, not to mention they are great decorations for any room!

Regular Pulmonologist Appointments

Maintaining regular health care is key to happy and healthy lungs. The experts at Pulmonary Associates of Brandon are equipped to diagnose and treat a variety of pulmonary diseases and conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, acute and chronic respiratory failure, lung cancer, pulmonary hypertension, lung infections, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and sleep disorders. The team of highly specialized physicians will know the best way to diagnose and treat any disorders of the lungs and can keep you informed about the general health of your lungs.

What Is The Difference Between Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Central Sleep Apnea?

obstructive sleep apnea

It is estimated that around 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can affect people of any age, however it most frequently affects men over the age of 40, especially those who are overweight. It is also estimated that 80% of cases of moderate to severe sleep apnea go undiagnosed. Without proper diagnosis and treatment sleep apnea can lead to a variety of health complications, including stroke, atrial fibrillation, high blood pressure, and heart failure.

The short definition of sleep apnea is a condition in which a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. It is a serious sleep disorder that causes people to stop breathing during the night, sometimes hundreds of times. This results in the brain and the rest of the body not getting adequate oxygen.

There are two different types of sleep apnea: obstructive and central. Let’s look at how they differ from one another.


What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

As the name suggests obstructive sleep apnea syndrome (OSAS) is when a person’s sleep apneas, or breathing interruptions, are caused by blockage of the airway. Typically, the cause of this blockage is the muscles of the throat intermittently relaxing during sleep and constricting the airway. This muscular collapse recurs throughout the night and often causes people to be aroused from their sleep cycle, although not always completely. Obstructive sleep apnea is the more common of the two sleep apnea conditions.

Some symptoms of sleep apnea occur at night during sleep, and others affect patients during the waking hours. The most distinctive symptom of obstructive sleep apnea is overly loud snoring.

Daytime Symptoms:

  • Waking up tired

  • Non-restorative sleep

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness

  • Memory-related and cognitive impairment

  • Decreased vigilance

  • Personality and mood changes

  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease

  • Sexual dysfunction such as impotence or decreased libido

  • Hypertension

 

Nighttime Sleep Apnea symptoms:

  • Loud, habitual snoring

  • Apneas or interruptions of snoring that usually end with a snort

  • Gasping and choking that arouse patients from sleep

  • insomnia, and restless sleep


What Is Central Sleep Apnea?

While obstructive sleep apnea is caused by upper respiratory blockage, central sleep apnea is caused by the brain failing to send signals to the muscles associated with breathing. This causes a patient’s breathing to be interrupted and as a result the body and brain may not receive a normal amount of oxygen during sleep.

Central sleep apnea is less common than obstructive sleep apnea, and it may occur as a result of other conditions. According to Dr. Rolando Sanchez, “some of the conditions that may cause central sleep apnea include metabolic diseases, trauma, brain tumors, heart failure, or stroke.”

The symptoms of central sleep apnea are similar to those of obstructive sleep apnea. Although patients with central sleep apnea usually do not display the same level of snoring as patients with OSAS. Other symptoms include:

  • Excessive daytime sleepiness

  • Waking up often during the night

  • Going to the bathroom often during the night

  • Headaches early in the morning

  • Poor memory

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Mood problems

 

Diagnosis

Physicians often recommend a sleep study to diagnose a patient with sleep apnea. If your partner or family members complain about your loud snoring, or if you suffer from other sleep apnea symptoms such as daytime tiredness or non-restorative sleep, then you may want to consider a sleep study. The Pulmonary Associates of Brandon offer sleep studies at their offices, and use state of the art equipment to diagnose their patient’s sleep disorders. They have the tools and expertise to get you on the path to restful and rejuvenating sleep.

What Does It Mean If My Chest Scan Is Abnormal?

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An abnormal chest scan could mean many things. It could be one problem, or a litany of problems, or it could be nothing serious. Dr. Rolando Sanchez MD says an abnormal chest x-ray could show an “enlarged heart, fluid in the lungs, air pockets, pneumonia, among many other things.” Pulmonary physicians can help read these scans and determine the particularities of any abnormality.

What Is A Chest Scan?

Two common forms of chest scans are chest x-rays and chest CTs. The x-ray is a more basic procedure and the CT is more detailed. It uses x-ray technology in conjunction with computer imaging software to create a more detailed picture of the lungs.

Chest x-rays are fast and painless tests that use electromagnetic waves to produce pictures of the structures in and around your chest. These tests are used to diagnose and monitor such conditions as pneumonia, heart failure, lung cancer, tuberculosis, sarcoidosis, and scarring of the lung tissue.

Chest CT scans or Computed Tomography scans are also painless tests. They provide more detailed images. They often create cross-sectional images of the lungs often called “slices”, and they also use computer technology to create 3-D models of the lungs. These tests are usually follow-up tests to abnormal chest x-rays. They are often used to diagnose certain lung conditions such as check to see if you have certain lung problems such as a tumor, excess fluid around the lungs that is known as pleural effusion, pulmonary embolism, emphysema, tuberculosis, and pneumonia.

Abnormal Scans

If you are experiencing symptoms such as shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, chronic mucus production, etc. then your physician may order a chest x-ray. If the x-ray is abnormal or the physician sees something in the x-ray, then they might order a CT scan or even a PET scan to further diagnose what showed up on the x-ray.

Conditions such as heart failure, pneumonia, lung cancer, tuberculosis, sarcoidosis, pleural effusion, embolisms, emphysema, and lung scarring would all show up on chest scans in various ways.

Pulmonary Nodules

Pulmonary nodules are small spots on the lungs that may show up on x-rays or CT scans. They are often causes of serious concern for patients even thought they do not have to be. A pulmonary nodule is usually less than 3cm in diameter, and can sometimes be in the lungs for years without the patient knowing. They do not always cause symptoms.

Nodules show up as white spots on imaging scans. Your physician will probably want to take a biopsy of the nodule to see if it is malignant or cancerous. Less than five percent of pulmonary nodules cause cancer, but it is better to be safe than sorry. Other causes of these nodules include infection, neoplasms, or sarcoidosis.

What Next?

The experts at Pulmonary Associates of Brandon are equipped to diagnose and treat a variety of pulmonary diseases and conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, acute and chronic respiratory failure, lung cancer, pulmonary hypertension, lung infections, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and sleep disorders. They can help you determine what is causing your abnormal chest scan, and can help decide the best path to take for it. The team of highly specialized physicians will know the best way to analyze a chest scan and the most effective way to proceed from any abnormalities.

5 Ways A Sleep Specialist Can Change Your Life

A sleep specialist underwent extensive training to diagnose and treat sleep-related disorders which enable the specialist to observe irregularities that occur during your sleep. When these problems are recognized and diagnosed, a patient’s life can be changed completely, not only because he or she will finally be able to get a good night’s sleep, but also because of the effects sleep causes on the rest of our lives. The time we spend asleep is just as important as the time we spend awake

Crucial Warning Signs of Lung Disease

A stubborn cough or excess phlegm may seem like no big deal, but these minor symptoms could actually be signs of much more serious conditions. Paying attention to symptoms is crucially important to catching lung disease before it is too serious. Knowing these warning signs can help you catch and treat lung disease while it is still in the early stages.

signs of lung disease

Lung diseases such as asthma, COPD, and lung cancer can first appear as coughs or shortness of breath. Knowing these warning signs puts you in a position to notify a pulmonary disease specialist and detect these conditions before it is too late.

Warning Signs of Lung Disease:

Shortness of Breath: Breathlessness or shortness of breath can be described as difficulty or discomfort breathing. It is also sometimes described as “tightness in the chest.” The medical term for shortness of breath is dyspnea. It is not only a symptom of being out of shape, but it could point to more serious lung conditions such as asthma, COPD, etc.

Chronic Cough: A cough is considered chronic if it has been ailing the patient for a month or more. Coughing is a normal reflex of the body that helps expel irritants from the airway and lungs, but a persistent, chronic cough could be a sign of a serious lung disease.

Chronic Mucus Production: Much like a cough, mucus, also called phlegm or sputum, is a naturally occurring function of the body that protects from infections or irritants. But, chronic mucus production in the lungs is an indication that the body is fighting something off, and could be a warning sign of a more serious condition. Persistent mucus producing coughs that last for a month or longer could be signs of lung disease.

Coughing up blood: Blood in a cough could come from the lungs or upper respiratory tract. No matter where it comes from, a bloody cough is a sign of a health problem, and possibly a serious one.

Wheezing: Noisy breathing or wheezing is not just a symptom of being out of shape; it is a sign that something is blocking your airways or making them too narrow.

Chronic chest pain: Chest pain that has lasted for a month or more, even if it is minor, is a warning sign for lung disease. Especially if you have chest pain when you breathe in or cough there is likely an issue with your respiratory tract.  

 

What Next?

Tell your doctor if you have these warning signs, as early detection of them could make treating lung disease much easier. The experts at Pulmonary Associates of Brandon are equipped to diagnose and treat a variety of pulmonary diseases and conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, acute and chronic respiratory failure, lung cancer, pulmonary hypertension, lung infections, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and sleep disorders.

5 Tips To Protect Your Lungs During The Harsh Winter Months

healthy lung tips

The winter months aren’t always full of cheer as the icy conditions can make it difficult on your lungs. Sometimes the weather is frigid and cold, the roads are frozen, and there’s a foot of snow on your front porch. In nasty weather such as this, the cold weather and your respiratory system don’t mix well. Whether you’re simply visiting up north for a vacation or living in these harsh conditions, it’s important to take precaution against wintery weather. Here are some tips to make sure that your lungs get the proper care they need against these harsh conditions:

  1. Wear a scarf or facemask

The frigid weather can be a harsh wake up for you and your respiratory system. In order to protect your lungs, cover your face with a scarf or wear a facemask as it warms the air before reaching your lungs. This tactic minimizes the harmful effects that cold air can have on your lungs.

  1. Breathe through your nose

In order to limit the direct contact of the cold air to your lungs, breathe through your nose rather than your mouth. Breathing through your nose gives the air extra time to heat up, so it’s not as cold when it reaches your lungs. This is a small trick that can truly make the difference when battling the winter months. 

  1. Stay healthy

Studies suggest that cold air suppresses your immune system. The cold winter air increases your chances of catching a respiratory illness, such as pneumonia, bronchitis, and the flu. Do your best to stay healthy by getting your flu shot, avoiding sick people, and learning how to treat respiratory disorders. Small preventative steps are crucial during a time when your lungs are vulnerable.

  1. Avoid exercising outside

Exercising in the bitter cold might actually do more harm to your body than good. The frigid air burns your lungs and increases your risk of respiratory infection. The cold causes your body to internalize its’ heat, increasing the risk of hypothermia and frostbite. Even further, the cold increases your blood pressure, putting you at a greater risk of cardiovascular diseases. Do your body a favor by investing in a treadmill or nabbing a discounted gym membership that often becomes available during the holidays and new year.

  1. Monitor the local air quality

Air pollution is a risk often overlooked during the winter. Air pollution sees an increase during the cold season due to the increase in wood fires to keep warm. This irritates your lungs and can be exponentially harmful to those with severe allergies. Stay on top of things by monitoring the local air quality and keeping medication on hand.

At the end of the day, these tips can’t guarantee that your lungs will be brand new, but it will make your winter experience much more enjoyable. You’ll be surprised at how much more manageable the cold has become, and it’ll be a warm breath of fresh air. If the winter conditions are bothering your lungs, schedule an appointment with Pulmonary Associates of Brandon today.

5 Common Myths About Sleep Disorders

myths about sleep disorders

Sleep is a major cornerstone of good health and wellness; yet according to the National Sleep Foundation, nearly 7 in 10 Americans experience frequent sleep problems. And even less have been diagnosed with a sleep disorder. Lack of sleep and common sleep disorders can affect everything from your workplace productivity to causing strained relationships at home. Sleep disorders come in many varieties, including sleep apnea, insomnia, restless leg syndrome and narcolepsy.

Though sleep disorders are relatively common, there exists a significant amount of confusion or misinformation regarding them. Below, we list and debunk a few of the most common myths about sleep disorders. This way, if you’re experiencing any sleep disorders, you can learn what’s really contributing to your condition and get the treatment you need.

Myth #1 – Sleep Disorders Aren’t Related to Health Conditions

Despite some beliefs that health problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, depression and obesity are not related to the quality of sleep, our sleep studies and research show that this is false. An abundance of scientific studies has also shown correlations between insufficient or poor-quality sleep and a variety of diseases, including those listed above. Lack of sleep can also contribute to health conditions such as obesity and diabetes.

Myth #2 – the Older You Are, the Less Sleep You Need

You’ve probably heard someone say they are completely “fine” running on 5 hours of sleep. But even though they may feel okay, they probably aren’t noticing the subtle strains a lack of sleep is putting on their life, whether it’s an absence of motivation or irritability. Sleep experts agree that most adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night for best health and performance. Do keep in mind that it is healthy for sleep patterns to change as you age. When you may have once gotten your 8 hours sleeping 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., you may now sleep 9 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. and feel no difference.

Read More: Treating Lung, Breathing & Sleeping Disorders

 

Myth #3 – You Can Make Up for Fewer Hours of Sleep at Night with Naps

While many people enjoy a power nap in the afternoon to recharge, studies show anything more than that during the day can affect your sleep patterns by putting you into the deeper stages of REM sleep. Don’t bank on trying to “make up” for lost sleep time with naps, as these can disrupt your normal sleep patterns and leave you more tired than you were to begin with. Instead, just plan on getting to sleep earlier the next night.

Myth #4 – Stay in Bed When You Can’t Sleep

Getting out of bed when a bout of restlessness kicks in may sound counterintuitive, but many sleep experts attest to the fact that forcing sleep when you don’t feel tired may cause stress and keep you awake even longer. Instead, doing something relaxing like reading a book or listening to calm music may help induce sleep. Avoid looking at the clock, turning on bright lights, watching TV or checking your phone, as the light may impede melatonin production.

Myth #5 – Snoring Doesn’t Cause Health Problems

Snoring can be indicative of a number of sleep disorders and health conditions, such as sleep apnea or heart disease. Gasping for breath or gaps in breathing are other alarming signs of sleep disorders and that it’s time to reach out to a sleep specialist to discuss treatment options. If you or a loved one experiences prolonged snoring or breathing issues while sleeping, speak with your doctor about it.

Be sure to consult your physician if you are experiencing sleep issues. There are many options when it comes to alleviating sleep disorders.

 

Bronchitis Causes, Symptoms and Treatment Options

bronchitis causes and symptoms

When you suffer from a cold or the flu for a few weeks, most times it goes away and you feel great again. Sometimes your cold lingers on and you develop a horrible cough and congestion. It’s hard to breathe and your feel tired and run down. What you have is most likely bronchitis.

There are two types of bronchitis to worry about. The first is acute bronchitis with flu-like symptoms that last a few weeks and goes away. The second is chronic bronchitis that produces a chronic cough, fatigue, and chills and lingers on.  Pulmonary Associates of Brandon has the staff to help treat your bronchitis effectively. Learn more about our bronchitis treatment options below.

What Are the Symptoms and Causes of Bronchitis?

What are the symptoms of bronchitis you may ask?  The doctor will tell you that the symptoms are a chronic cough that brings up mucus that is green, yellow, or white. Often your chest feels full, your nose runs non-stop, you’re tired, feverish, and run down.  Other symptoms are chills, muscle aches, and a sore throat.

What causes bronchitis?  The causes of bronchitis are bacteria, a weak immune system, smoking, air pollution, GERD, or inhaling chemicals that are harmful where you work or live.

Call us for an appointment when you cough up blood, cannot go to sleep, the symptoms last more than three weeks, lose weight, have a foul taste in your mouth, have a temperature over 100, or have trouble breathing.  Don’t wait for your bronchitis to turn into pneumonia.

Tests For Bronchitis

So, your doctor has recommended you go to a pulmonary specialist to treat your bronchitis? Don’t panic, our tests are painless.  Our specialists will give you a complete physical exam and take a complete medical history. The doctor then listens to your lungs and heart to detect any abnormalities that can arise from bronchitis. They will also check the oxygen level of your blood using a sensor that is put on your finger or toe, a much simpler process than you’d think.

Our pulmonologists will then perform a lung function test using a device called a spirometer. When you breathe into this device it measures how much air you can blow out of your lungs quickly. Before the test, your doctor may give you a medication called a bronchodilator. This medication expands your lungs’ airways so that you can breathe easier.  This test is also used to test for asthma, allergies respiratory infections, and emphysema.  Other tests used to test for bronchitis are a chest X-ray, blood test, CT scan, or a lab analysis of your mucus to rule out more serious infections.

Treatments For Bronchitis

If the doctors find that your bronchitis is caused by a bacterial infection they will prescribe an antibiotic. If you’re having trouble breathing due to your bronchitis, your doctor may prescribe an inhaled medication which uses a humidifier to open your airways.  For chronic bronchitis, however, our doctors may prescribe oxygen therapy or recommend setting up a time to meet with our respiratory therapist.

Both children and adults suffer from bronchitis, but early treatment is key for people of any age. Call Pulmonary Associates of Brandon and make an appointment if you’ve been suffering from symptoms of bronchitis. Our pulmonary specialists will help provide a treatment plan that puts you or your family member on the road to recovery quickly.

The Dangerous Side of Sleep Apnea

dangerous side of sleep apnea

Sleep apnea is a very serious sleep disorder that interrupts how you breathe during sleep, but sleep apnea treatment options are available.  When you stop breathing, your brain and body do not get enough oxygen. People with obstructive sleep apnea often snore through the night, even more than the average person snores. These people don’t know how to stop snoring and will probably keep other family members awake.  Unfortunately, an annoyed spouse is the least of their problems.

The most common type of sleep apnea is caused by a blockage in the airway. Often, the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses while breathing at night. Another type of sleep apnea is Central Sleep Apnea, which is when the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe when you are sleeping.

The symptoms of sleep apnea include sore, dry throat, loud snoring, lack of energy, headaches, mood changes and insomnia. Left untreated, you could face some serious health risks including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, weight gain, asthma, and acid reflux. Pulmonary Associates of Brandon offers several treatment options for patients suffering from sleep apnea depending on type and severity.

Here are some of the dangers of sleep apnea:

High Blood Pressure and Heart Disease

Obstructive sleep apnea causes high blood pressure due to hormonal changes in the body.  Lack of oxygen at night contributes to increased levels of hormones.  Individuals with high blood pressure that are treated for sleep apnea, will often see improved symptoms and often reduce their need for blood pressure medications.

When obstructive sleep apnea occurs, it directly impacts your heart’s functionality. The lack of oxygen when being woken up, causes increased stress on the heart.  This stress can lead to a stroke or heart attack over time.

Type 2 Diabetes and Weight Gain

Not getting enough sleep causes the body to not process insulin properly, which is why sleep apnea is often linked to Type 2 Diabetes.  Being overweight often leads to symptoms of sleep apnea. This is because excess weight can result in fatty deposits forming in your neck, which makes it hard to breathe.  It is estimated about 40% of those with sleep apnea also have diabetes.

When you have sleep apnea, the body often releases the hormone ghrelin. This hormone makes you crave sweets and sugar and also inhibits your body’s ability to burn food correctly and turn it into energy. When you treat sleep apnea it can lead to more energy and weight loss.  

Free Download: First Sleep Apnea Treatment Appointment Checklist

Acid Reflux and GERD

Acid reflux disease is very common in people that have sleep apnea.  When these individuals are sleeping, their throat opens and closes in a way that is not ideal. As air flows in and out during the night, it can cause symptoms of GERD. The pressure sucks the contents of the stomach back into the esophagus causing heartburn which is an initial symptom of GERD.  Weight loss often helps relieve the symptoms of reflux as a result of sleep apnea, but when you treat the sleep disorder, you could kill two birds with one stone.

Mood Disorders and Headaches

Lack of sleep from sleep apnea can cause frequent headaches in the morning. If you’re waking up every morning with a pounding headache, it will undoubtedly cause your moods to become erratic. You may get angry or feel like crying over nothing, and who could blame you? Sleep is integral to emotional stability which is why sleep apnea can impact how you function every day.

 

Contact The Florida Sleep Center or Pulmonary Associates of Brandon for a sleep evaluation and study if you believe that you’ve been suffering from symptoms of sleep apnea. Our sleep center in Brandon can diagnose your condition and help you on the road to good health. Our doctors offer treatments including behavior modification, surgery, CPAP treatment, medications, and oral/dental devices, but our physicians can help you determine the best option for you. Learn more today.

Lung Facts

The respiratory system is made up of several organs and structures, including the lungs, windpipe, diaphragm and alveoli. It is responsible for taking in oxygen and expelling carbon-dioxide waste. But you probably knew that. What you may not know is that you take approximately 22,000 breaths every 24 hours. And that when you exhale, you also release up to 17.5 milliliters (0.59 fluid ounces) of water per hour. Here are 8 more interesting facts about the lungs:

  • The lungs are the only organ that can float on water.  Each of your lungs contains about 300 million balloon-like structures called alveoli, which replace the carbon-dioxide waste in your blood with oxygen. When these structures are filled with air, the lungs become the only organs in the human body that can float. In fact, medical examiners use the so-called “lung float test” during autopsies to determine if a baby was stillborn (died in the womb). If the lungs float, the baby was born alive; if the lungs don’t float, the baby was stillborn. This method is accurate 98 percent of the time, according to a 2013 study in the International Journal of Legal Medicine.
  • Your left and right lungs aren’t exactly the same. The lung on the left side of your body is divided into two lobes while the lung on your right side is divided into three. The left lung is also slightly smaller, allowing room for your heart.
  • Can you live without one lung? Yes you can, it limits your physical ability but doesn’t stop you from living a relatively normal life. Many people around the world live with just one lung.
  • People who have a large lung capacity can send oxygen around their body faster. You can increase you lung capacity with regular exercise.
  • An average person breathes in around 11,000 litres of air every day.
  • The study of lung diseases is known as pulmonology.
  • Asthma is a common disease that affects the lungs. Asthma attacks happen when your airways narrow after being irritated. The narrow airways make it hard for you to breathe in air.  However, between the 1930s and 1950s, it was commonly thought that asthma was a psychological problem. Therapists even interpreted a child’s asthmatic wheezing as a suppressed cry for his or her mother, according to a 2005 article in the journal Clinical Practice & Epidemiology in Mental Health.
  • Chest movement during breathing isn’t the result of air movement. When you breathe in, our chest swells; when you breathe out, our chest collapses. But these chest movements are not actually the result of air filling up or exiting the lungs.During inhalation, the diaphragm — a thin sheet of dome-shaped muscle that separates the chest and abdominal cavities — contracts and moves down, increasing the space in the chest cavity. At the same time, the muscles between the ribs contract to pull the rib cage upward and outward. During exhalation, the exact opposite happens.

Crazy Facts About Your Lungs and Pulmonary Health

Your Lungs are Amazing!

The lungs should be considered “the environmental organ.” They are unique in their size and formation, and they interface with all the materials you inhale from the community environment, the work environment, and the personal environment. The lungs are made up of a series of branching tubes that provide the pathways for air entry and exit. These pathways, called bronchi, are exquisite in their design, with each tube branching twice: The major airway or windpipe (trachea) divides into two main bronchi, which in turn beget smaller and smaller orders of bronchi until some 22 divisions result in the final conducting passageways.

The respiratory or gas exchange function of the lungs begins in tiny sacs or folded structures (alveoli) attached to these tiny passageways. These smallest passageways continue to branch and finally connect with alveolar ducts, passageways thoroughly lined by alveoli. Each duct ends in a mass of alveoli. The avelolar-capillary membrane lines all of the alveoli and works as the blood-air interface. It allows life-giving oxygen into the blood and extracts the waste gas, carbon dioxide, from the blood. This delicate membrane is only 1/50th the thickness of tissue paper, thin enough to transport oxygen and carbon dioxide, but still a barrier against fluid formation within the alveolar spaces.

The lungs are the largest organ in the body. The total surface of the alveolar membrane varies from 100 to 200 square meters, depending on the size of the person. The overall surface area of the alveolar membrane has frequently been equated to that of a tennis court. This comparison is really an underestimation! Thus, the lungs are by far the largest organs that make intimate contact with the environment.

The lungs are also the only organs of the body that receive all the blood from the heart with every heartbeat. Thus, any material in the bloodstream circulates through the lungs constantly. Some materials, such as small blood clots, can injure the membrane and cause the lung to leak fluid. Infections can cause pneumonia, and heart failure can flood the lungs. In these conditions, gas exchange becomes abnormal.

People who truly understand the lungs marvel at their complexity. Consider that roughly 100,000 small air passages that feed a membrane surface area greater than the size of a tennis court! This membrane wraps itself around at least 300 million alveoli and is lined with a myriad of tiny blood vessels called capillaries. Consider further the fact that approximately four quarts of air pass through the gas-exchange surface each minute, along with some five liters of blood, which traverse the capillary membrane. This magnificent machine occupies the chest cavity and, in all, is some 4 to 6 quarts of total volume. We certainly must consider the lungs the most exquisite packaging job in nature, and their function a splendid orchestration. Only the brain possesses greater complexity and capability in design and function.

Oxygen is required for all organ functions, including heart functions that are involved in every living activity. Oxygen is critical to the survival of all human beings. A shortage of oxygen affects every organ in the body. The brain has the highest oxygen requirement of all the organs. The heart has an immense oxygen requirement compared with the other organs in the body. The liver, kidneys, and all other organs require oxygen for their own vital functions. Thus, in states of oxygen deficiency, the whole body becomes robbed of vital energy.

Oxygen is involved in the process of metabolism, which converts food into the energy we need to live. The by-product of metabolism is carbon dioxide. The lungs remove carbon dioxide from the blood as it is returned from the tissues. When the lungs cannot exhale enough carbon dioxide, there is a toxic build-up, resulting in “acidosis,” an acid poisoning of all cells of the body. The brain, heart, and other organs are also impaired by carbon dioxide retention.

Understanding the lungs would be easy if they simply exchanged oxygen and carbon dioxide, but they do much more. Many of the body’s chemicals are either inactivated or activated by the lungs. For example, the lungs activate a hormone that helps control blood pressure. The lungs, through their normal function, affect our daily moods and emotions.

Naturally, the lungs must be defended against outside damage, and research has revealed some fascinating defense mechanisms. The nose acts as a filter, and the conducting air passages contain a protective mucous lining. Within the lungs, tiny hair-like cells called cilia sweep the air entering the lungs almost constantly, acting as janitors. Scavenging cells, called macrophages, are poised and ready to engulf particles that evade their sentinels. Macrophages are potent obstacles to damage from the environment, but these cells can release enzymes that damage the lung’s delicate structure.

Small amounts of normal lung fluids also help the lungs defend themselves. The surfactant system of the lungs allows easy filling and emptying of the lungs. Surfactant also provides an antibacterial and immune function to protect against infections. Within the blood vessels of the lungs, an anti-clotting system combats small accumulations of damaging cells, aggregates, and small clots that enter the lungs from other parts of the body. Thus, normal lung fluids are being formed and washed away constantly. The lungs have anti-irritants, anti-infectives, anti-enzymes, and immune defense mechanisms, all of which are coordinated to serve these organs well.

The gas-transfer function of the lungs is well understood today. In fact, everyone should learn about this process, the essence of normal organ system function. The biochemical or non-respiratory functions of the lungs are less recognized. We continue to marvel at the hormonal activities of the lungs that regulate other functions of the body, possibly including the brain. Thus, the lungs work in cooperation with the brain, and are the main control system for the body. The lungs are unequaled in their diversity of functions and contributions to the health of the individual.