Oral thrush is by no means anything pleasant to look at. It looks like it would cause the tongue and the mouth intense pain. It is called Oral thrush, also known as oropharyngeal candidiasis, is a type of yeast infection (white film on the tongue) that develops inside your mouth and on your tongue. It is a bacterial infection and in some cases it can leave deep lesions that look like holes in the tongue. It also can take out the outer edges of the tongue which makes it look like the tongue is missing parts.
Essential oils are the essence of a plant. They are made from the bark, stem, leaves, roots or flowers of a plant, using a process of steam distillation. They play a role in protecting plants and helping with pollination, but they also bring us plenty of benefits. They have been used for many years in cooking, beauty treatments, and medicines.
Essential oils give plants their unique aroma and that is what makes them so effective in aromatherapy. The aroma acts on the smell receptors in the nose, which are closely connected to a part of the brain which governs memory and emotions. This is why essential oils are used to affect mood.
Essential oils can be used in a blend or complementary oils, or they can be used on their own, depending on the desired.
Breathing is an involuntary action. You don’t need to think about it, and you probably don’t notice it. But you breathe on average 12-20 times every minute of every day. Your lungs take in the oxygen you need to stay alive, and get rid of the waste product carbon dioxide.
The mechanics of breathing
Breathing starts with the nose and mouth. You breathe air in through your nose or mouth, and it travels down your throat and into your windpipe. Your windpipe then divides into air passages called bronchial tubes.
For your lungs to do their job properly, your airways need to be free from inflammation or mucus.
As the bronchial tubes pass through the lungs, they divide into even smaller air passages called bronchioles. The bronchioles have tiny balloon-like air sacs at the end of them called alveoli. Your body has over 300 million of these sacs.
The sacs are surrounded by a network of tiny blood vessels called capillaries. This is where the oxygen from the inhaled air passes through the sac walls and into the blood.
After absorbing the oxygen, the blood leaves the lungs and is carried to the heart. The heart then pumps it through your body to provide oxygen to the cells of your tissues and organs where it is needed.
As the cells use the oxygen, carbon dioxide is produced. The blood then carries the carbon dioxide back to your lungs, where it is removed from the body when you breathe out.
Breathing is aided by a large muscle called the diaphragm, which sits under the lungs. When you breathe in, the diaphragm moves downwards, creating a space which pulls air into the lungs.
When you breath out, the diaphragm relaxes and moves upwards, pushing the air out of the lungs and they deflate.
Your lungs have built in protection
The respiratory system is built to prevent harmful substances in the air from entering the lungs.
Hairs in your nose help to filter out particles. Tiny hairs called cilia are found along your air passages and move constantly to keep them clean. But if harmful substances, such as cigarette smoke, are inhaled, the cilia can’t do their job, and this is when you can become prone to lung problems.
Mucus produced by cells in the windpipe and bronchial tubes keeps the air passages moist and helps to stop dust, bacteria, viruses, allergy-causing substances, and other substances from entering the lungs and causing harm.
Impurities that do break through these defences can be moved up by the mucus and coughed out or swallowed.
Many millions of people suffer from lung disease, which are commonly caused by smoking, infections, or genetics.
Lung diseases of the airways
The airways are chronically inflamed and occasionally go into spasm, causing wheezing and shortness of breath. Asthma attacks can be caused by allergies, infections, or pollution.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
This is a condition, where a sufferer can’t exhale properly, which causes shortness of breath.
This is a form of COPD, which is accompanied by a chronic cough.
Emphysema: Lung damage allows air to be trapped in the lungs in this form of COPD. Difficulty blowing air out is its hallmark.
This is an infection of the airways which is usually caused by a virus.
This is a genetic condition which causes difficulty in clearing mucus from the bronchi. When mucus accumulates, it can cause lung infections.
Lung diseases affecting the air sacs
This is an infection of the air sacs, normally by bacteria.
This is a form of pneumonia caused by a particular bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis.
This condition is caused by smoking ordinarily. It is caused by damage to the connections between the air sacs.
Fluid leaks out of the small blood vessels of the lung into the air sacs and the surrounding area. One type is caused by heart failure which causes pressure in the lungs’ blood vessels and another type can be caused by injury to the lung which causes it to leak fluid.
There are many types of cancer, which can develop in any part of the lungs. However, the most common types develop in the main part of the lung, near the air sacs.
This is a condition caused by inhaling a substance which is damaging to the lungs. This might be something like asbestos dust, or coal dust, in the case of former miners.
Lung diseases affecting the blood vessels
This occurs when a blood clot, usually in a deep leg vein, breaks off and travels to the heart, and is pumped into the lungs. The clot lodges in a pulmonary artery, causing shortness of breath and low blood oxygen levels. This can be fatal.
Various health conditions can lead to high blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries. This can cause shortness of breath and chest pain.
Lung Diseases affecting the space between the chest wall and the lung
Pneumothorax (collapsed lung)
Air can enter the space between the chest wall and the lung, causing it to collapse. To remove the air, a tube is inserted through the chest wall to drain it.
This is a rare form of cancer that forms on the pleura. Asbestos exposure causes it, and it can develop decades after the initial exposure.
Shortness of breath
Shortness of breath, or breathing difficulty, known medically as dyspnoea, is the most common reason for visiting a hospital accident and emergency department. It’s also the most common reason why people call an ambulance.
When you exert yourself, it is normal to feel out of breath, but when you feel breathless unexpectedly, it can be worrying, and it can be a sign that there’s something else wrong.
Causes of sudden shortness of breath
If breathlessness occurs suddenly and unexpectedly, it’s likely to be for one of these reasons:
An asthma attack
Sudden breathlessness could be an asthma attack. Your airways narrow and produce more phlegm which makes you feel wheezy and out of breath. It’s harder to get air in and out of the airways, so that’s why you feel breathless. You should have an appropriate inhaler to relieve symptoms, however, if your symptoms do not improve, go to your nearest accident and emergency department.
This is inflammation of the lungs which can cause shortness of breath and a cough. You will more than likely need a course of antibiotics to get rid of any infection.
If you have COPD, it’s likely that breathlessness is a sign that your condition has got worse.
A heart problem
It’s possible to have a “silent” heart attack. You can experience shortness of breath without the chest pain or other usual symptoms. Seek medical advice, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Heart failure can also cause breathing difficulties. This is a life-threatening condition where your heart can’t pump enough blood around your body. This occurs when the heart muscle becomes weak. Fluid builds up in the lungs as a result and it causes shortness of breath. Heart failure need not be a death sentence though, and lifestyle changes, medication, or surgery can help the heart to function better.
Breathlessness could also be caused by a problem with your heart rate or rhythm (if it is beating too fast, for example).
Panic attack or anxiety
A panic attack or anxiety can cause you to take rapid or deep breaths, known as hyperventilation. If you suffer from panic attacks, try to slow your breathing down, or breathe into a paper bag to redress the balance between oxygen and carbon dioxide. Your doctor can refer you to a therapist or prescribe medication to help with anxiety.
How you can manage shortness of breath
This method is also called abdominal breathing or deep breathing. Diaphragmatic breathing can help to manage breathlessness. This technique is particularly helpful when you have shortness of breath due to obstruction of the airways, as in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Try this exercise:
Lie down on your back, rest your hands on your abdomen and relax.
Breathe in deeply through your nose, feel your abdomen expand under your hands and your lungs fill with air. Pause for a couple of seconds, then breathe out slowly through your mouth and empty your lungs.
Repeat for 5 to 10 minutes, 2-3 times per day.
Another common breathing technique that can help ease shortness of breath is pursed-lip breathing.
It can slow your breathing, and it is particularly helpful if you have asthma or anxiety. Try this:
Sit comfortably and relax your neck and shoulder muscles.
Purse your lips, as you would if you were going to give someone a kiss on the cheek.
Inhale for a couple of seconds through your nose, then exhale slowly to a count of 4. Repeat this technique for 5 to 10 minutes.
Drink black coffee
A cup of black coffee can help to relieve shortness of breath. The caffeine in coffee can help to stimulate the respiratory muscles and improves airway function.
Drink 1 to 2 cups of strong, black coffee to relieve shortness of breath and boost the function of your airways. It’s all about moderation, however, and remember that caffeine can raise your heart rate and blood pressure if drank in excess.
If a problem with your respiratory passages is causing breathlessness, steam inhalation is a good option. It will help to get rid of congestion and open the passages up.
The heat and moisture from the steam will help dissolve and thin mucus so the body can get rid of it more easily. Try this:
Fill a bowl with very hot water.
Add a few drops of essential oil, such as eucalyptus or peppermint essential oil. These oils are proven to be effective for getting rid of congestion.
Place your face over the bowl and a towel over your head.
Inhale the steam, taking deep breaths for several minutes. Keep your eyes closed.
Follow this remedy whenever you have nasal congestion, whether it is because of an airway problem or even if it is due to a common cold.
Ginger has expectorant properties which means that it can help the body to get rid of congestion that may cause breathing difficulty.
Studies have shown that there are several compounds in ginger that can stop the body from producing so much mucus which can help you to breathe more easily. It can also help to fight off any lingering infections in the respiratory tract.
Drink 2 to 3 cups of ginger tea daily. To make the tea, add 1 tablespoon of fresh ginger slices to 2 cups of boiling water. Cover and let it simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Strain the mixture, add a little honey to taste and sip the tea slowly. You can also try chewing pieces of ginger, or buy ginger candies to get rid of any congestion.
A condition called Anaemia can cause shortness of breath. This is caused by an iron deficiency. The body needs iron to make red blood cells, and it’s the red blood cells which carry oxygen to where it’s needed. If your body is not producing enough red blood cells, you will feel as if you’re out of breath.
Beetroot is rich in iron and it will help to replenish the levels of the mineral in your blood.
Extract the juice of 1 medium-size beetroot, then add 3 carrots, a handful of spinach and ½ sweet potato to a juicer. Drink this once per day.
You can also roast 1 to 2 beetroots along with their peels in the oven. Allow them to cool, peel and then season them with salt and pepper.
Also, include more iron-rich foods in your diet. When you eat iron-foods, have them with a source of vitamin C such as orange juice which helps the body absorb iron.
Fennel is used in Ayurvedic medicine to help treat breathing problems. It has expectorant properties that help to break up phlegm and mucus which will help you to breathe more easily. Fennel also contains iron, so it will help to treat any anaemia-related breathlessness.
Add 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds to a cup of hot water. Cover and allow it to brew for 5 to 10 minutes. Strain the mixture then add raw honey and drink it 2 or 3 times per day.
You can also chew a spoonful of dry roasted fennel seeds to get the benefits.
Give up smoking
The harmful chemicals in cigarette smoke can damage the airways and cause diseases which can make you feel breathless. Worst of all, it’s a known killer, and is undisputedly one of the worst things you can do for your health. Speak to your doctor about the help you can get to quit smoking.
Take moderate exercise
Go walking. Walking is a moderate form of exercises which can help you control your weight, and develop fitness and stamina. Exercise makes your heart and lungs stronger, so you should get less episodes of breathlessness. If you have an existing condition, speak to your doctor before starting a new exercise programme.
Try to walk at a moderate pace for 30 to 60 minutes, 5 times a week, to improve your health and increase your stamina.
Relaxing activities such as yoga and meditation can also help you to deal with breathing difficulties. They encourage focus on deep breathing and boost circulation around the body. They are excellent for anxiety, which can also make you feel like you are short of breath.
Dealing with shortness of breath
Here are some further tips to help you control your shortness of breath:
Keep a journal of when you experience shortness of breath, record what makes you feel better and what makes you feel worse. This will be helpful if you have to see your doctor about your symptoms.
If you experience shortness of breath at night, try to sleep propped up with several pillows as lying flat can restrict and put pressure on the airways.
If you are experiencing unusual shortness of breath during exercise or other exertion, cease the activity and seek advice from your doctor.
Avoid exposure to toxic chemicals at home or work, as these can irritate the lungs.
Drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated and thin out any mucus, making it easier to get rid of.
If you have asthma, always have your inhaler with you when you are exercising, and try to avoid your triggers, such as chemicals and smoke.
Use a humidifier, especially in winter, as dry air thickens mucus and can make breathing difficult. In general, cold, dry air is a risk factor for asthma attacks and heart attacks as it can cause the airways to constrict. If you are asthmatic, consider taking up swimming as the moist, warm air can be beneficial for keeping the airways open.
Your lungs are large organs that almost fill the chest cavity, and they are a bit like a sponge. The left lung is a little smaller than the right lung, to make room for the heart. When you inhale, you take air in through your nose and mouth, where it travels down your windpipe, a tube in your throat. The windpipe divides into 2 tubes called bronchi, and one tube enters each lung. The bronchi divide into smaller airways, which lead to small air sacs called alveoli.
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