Respiratory illnesses and disorders can occur at any age and take many forms. Sometimes these issues are from a minor upper respiratory infection during allergy season, other times it could be the case of pneumonia setting in after a long illness, or even lung cancer brought on by a lifetime of smoking. These respiratory issues can be especially acute for older individuals. They may be dealing with a respiratory problem in conjunction with another disease or disorder, or may find it harder to fight off even a relatively minor infection due to a weakened or compromised immune system. Princeton Health Care Center offers respiratory care alongside our other skilled nursing services. Here’s when it might be time to reach out to us.
Common Respiratory Diseases and Disorders
The list of respiratory diseases is a long one, but there are three the Princeton Health Care Center staff encounters with considerable frequency.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
COPD is a generic term for many diseases that manifest in obstructed airways. COPD includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis, among other ailments, and is characterized by wheezing, coughing up mucus (especially in the morning), and shortness of breath. The first signs of COPD can appear in your 30’s and 40’s but is most often detected in middle-aged individuals. Since it can be easy to write off symptoms as just another part of aging, it isn’t often detected until it’s gotten much worse.
Lung cancer can develop at any age and in any part of the lungs. The tumors that come with lung cancer interfere with breathing, and the cancer can metastasize, especially if not caught until it reaches an advanced stage. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death, especially among smokers. But don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re in the clear because you’ve never smoked. Exposure to secondhand smoke, radon, asbestos, and even garden-variety air pollution can cause this insidious disease.
Pneumonia takes many forms and is often characterized by fever, chills, cough, and shortness of breath. It’s usually easy to treat if it’s caught early and treated aggressively. We advise to get the pneumonia vaccine annually (especially past age 65) and keep your hands clean. Pneumonia can be fatal if left untreated so visiting a doctor when in doubt is always recommended.
You hear plenty about self-care when it comes to diet or heart health. There are things you can do to improve your respiratory health as well. If you work in an occupation like mining or agriculture that carries with it a high risk of lung damage, wear appropriate PPE (personal protective equipment). Even if you’ve got a desk job, you can still do plenty of damage to your lungs if you’re not careful. Painting or using certain adhesives, solvents, or cleaners can be harmful to your health during your off hours. Be careful.
What’s the biggest thing you can do for your respiratory system? If you smoke, stop. If you don’t smoke, don’t start. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) cites cigarette smoking as the “leading preventable cause of death in the United States.” Even if you’re already suffering from a respiratory illness, it’s still not too late to quit; your body will have more of a fighting chance if you don’t light up.
Respiratory Therapy at Princeton Health Care Center
The respiratory care team at Princeton Health Care Center uses a variety of devices and techniques to restore respiratory health. These and other specialists at our Princeton WV skilled nursing facility work together to ensure the highest level of care for our patients. Because respiratory ailments often exist with mobility problems, cancer, and other similar illnesses, your care will be administered in a way that complements other therapies, including oncology, pain management, IV therapy, and others.