Respiratory Diseases

Respiratory Diseases

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

COPD is a chronic lung disease that has no cure, but it is possible to slow down its progression. It is characterized by persistent respiratory symptoms and dyspnoea (short of breath), which is a result of the bronchi inflammation (bronchitis) and/or a lesion of the respiratory airways and the lung alveolus (lung emphysema). Both bronchitis and emphysema can arise isolated or together.

Causes and symptoms:

The main cause for COPD is, undoubtedly, smoking, due to the inflammation and the lesions that it provokes on the respiratory airway. The likelihood of developing COPD is higher the more you smoke and the longer you do it. Some cases of COPD can be the result, for instance, of long-term exposure to harmful industrial fumes. There can also be a hereditary predisposition (genetic) for developing COPD, although it is less frequent.

The main COPD symptoms are:

  • Cough

  • Shortness of breath and wheeze

  • Phlegm

  • Fatigue

  • Recurrent pulmonary infections

The main treatment for COPD is to quit smoking. To help with the breathing symptoms and to avoid exacerbations, it is frequently necessary to use medication. This medication is usually administered through devices called inhalers, usually containing a dry powder that is inhaled through the inhaler’s mouthpiece.

Always consult your doctor.


Asthma is a chronic disease characterized by chronic airway inflammation. It can appear in adulthood and in both genders. Although there is no cure for asthma, it is possible to control the disease.

The main goal for asthma treatment is to achieve a good symptom control and to minimize the risk of exacerbations of the disease.

There are available treatments to control asthma attacks, which are adequate for children, adolescents and adults.

Causes and symptoms:

Asthma can be caused by genetic and/or environmental factors, such as viral infections or allergens.

There are some triggers for asthma attacks:

  • Colds

  • Physical exercise

  • Exposure to allergens

  • Weather changes

  • Laughter

  • Irritating substances, such as smoke or pollution

The main symptoms of asthma are: 

  • Wheeze

  • Shortness of breath

  • Chest tightness

  • Cough

Always consult your doctor.


Allergies are an exaggerated reaction of the immune system related to the exposure to foreign substances - the allergens. It is the case of, for instance, mites, pollen or pet fur. When one person has allergies, their immune system produces antibodies that identify a particular allergen as a harmful substance, even though it is not. Allergic individuals, when exposed to allergens, produce histamine and other substances that lead to local reaction and/or inflammation of the skin, airways or digestive system. In the most severe cases (anaphylaxis and anaphylactic shock), there could be swelling in the throat and shortness of breath. In these cases, it is necessary to go to the Emergency Department. 

Allergies have a huge impact in the general well-being because it reduces the work ability, quality of life, and ability to learn or proceed with normal daily activities.

Always consult your doctor.

Allergic Rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis is an inflammation of the nasal mucosa that is usually characterized by sneezing, rhinorrhea ("runny nose"), nasal itch and congestion. 

Currently, it is seen as one of the components of the allergic response, and it may be associated with other conditions, such as atopic dermatitis and/or asthma.

Allergic rhinitis is a very common type of allergy, and it can be seasonal (intermittent) and/or perennial (persistent).

The most frequent allergens are tree and grass pollen, mould, house dust mites, pet fur, smoke and dust. 

Usually, it is more frequent to appear in childhood, but it can arise at any age.

The diagnosis is made from patients' symptoms and after medical observation, which can be complemented with some exams to help detect the potential allergens.

Prevention of allergic rhinitis

The first attitude is to avoid the suspected substances that are believed to be the cause for allergic rhinitis.


The most efficient way to treat allergic rhinitis is to prevent it. However, there are drugs that can be prescribed by the doctor, when allergen avoidance is not enough. The most frequently used drugs are anti-histaminics and corticosteroid nasal sprays. 

Always consult your doctor.

Urticaria (Hives)

Urticaria is characterised by a sudden occurrence of of itchy, raised, red areas with a pale center that appear on the skin and can have different sizes. Urticaria can be caused by: 1) allergic reactions (for instance, allergens, food or medications), 2) non-allergic reactions (physical stimuli - pressure, cold, heat - or certain diseases). In most cases, urticaria lesions disappear in less than 24 hours, but they can last days or weeks.

 Always consult your doctor.

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