CLRD, the acronym for Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease, is a set of conditions that affect the lungs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), CLRD and the other encompassing chronic respiratory diseases are one the top causes of death in the United States. This article will discuss CLRD and its different forms, plus its causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.
What Is CLRD?
CLRD is a general term for respiratory diseases that affect the condition of your lungs. It encompasses chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD comes in different forms, such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis. CLRD also encompasses asthma and occupational lung diseases. Now let’s take a look at their causes and symptoms.
Before we discuss specific symptoms for each type of chronic lower respiratory disease, here are the common signs to look for:
- Chronic cough
- Increased mucus production
- Racing heartbeat
- Shortness of breath
Here are the specific symptoms to look for in each condition:
- Asthma: those with asthma are sensitive to smoke, pollen, and infections and experience coughing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and wheezing (note: these symptoms aren’t constant but can increase during an asthmatic episode
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): those with COPD experience a limitation of airflow in and out of the lungs, which can lead to chronic cough, chest tightness, phlegm production, and shortness of breath
- Chronic bronchitis: this type of COPD is characterized by red and swollen airways and may result in symptoms such as chest and nasal congestion, mild fever, runny nose, sore throat, plus a dry, wheezing cough
- Emphysema: this type of COPD involves the air sacs in the lungs being damaged and may result in symptoms that include chest pain, chronic cough, cyanosis, frequent respiratory infections, phlegm production, and shortness of breath
- Occupational lung diseases: these types of illnesses are often the result of air pollution, on-the-job exposure to substances, plus they can be attributed to smoking or secondhand smoke leading to symptoms that range from regular respiratory infections to coughing up blood
CLRDs are diagnosed through a physical exam, medical history, and then an assessment of lung function. Specific tests for CLRDs include:
- Blood tests
- Exercise capacity evaluations
- Imagining such as chest X-Rays
- Lung function tests
- Pulse oximetry
Now that we’ve covered the causes, symptoms, and diagnosis for CLRD, let’s look at treatment options. The first and the best thing you can do is stop smoking and avoid secondhand smoke. Next would be to avoid air pollutants by wearing a mask or installing a ventilator at your workplace if you’re around substances that may affect lung function.
Beyond that, you may need to meet with your healthcare provider to create a pulmonary rehabilitation plan that may involve medication depending on which type of disease you have. Suppose your health care provider discovers that you are experiencing low blood oxygen levels. In that case, they may provide supplemental oxygen to help with your breathing.
In the meantime, besides quitting smoking and meeting with your health care provider, one of the most effective things you can do to improve your lung function is to exercise. Research has shown that physical activity, even as little as walking, can help improve your breathing.
If you have questions about CLRD or any of the conditions discussed here, connecting with a doctor in a discrete setting has never been easier.
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