Air and Breathing
Airborne microbes, allergens and chemicals cause respiratory disease - inflammation in the nose, throat, sinuses, upper airway and the lung. Many infections are acquired by inhalation of pathogens that may remain in the respiratory system but also invade the rest of the body through lymphatic and blood circulations.
Upper airway inflammation is often expressed congestion, coughs and sore
throats. Air pollution, both indoor and outdoor, plays a significant role in the
exacerbation of airway disease in asthmatics and may contribute to the overall
increase in asthma morbidity. Hospitalization for asthma has increased by 50%
over the past 20 years, and deaths from asthma in the United States have
increased to more than 5,000 per year. It is suggested that mortality is
particularly high in lower socioeconomic groups who are exposed to higher levels
of air pollution and have poorer access to early and effective medical care.
Ozone is an atmospheric pollutant that enhances the effect of inhaled
allergens in asthmatics, suggesting that pollutants influence lung function by
increasing airway inflammation. Over 50% of the United States population lives
in areas which exceed air quality standards for ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur
dioxide, and particulates (as monitored by the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency - EPA).
Spring or summer wheezing attacks of pollen sensitive patients is a form of
allergic asthma, usually obvious to patients and allergists alike. Indoor
allergens often play a role in maintaining year-round airway disease and may
present as rhinitis, sinusitis, asthma and/or bronchitis.
Every human alive on planet earth suffers from recurrent Upper Respiratory
Tract Infection. Over 80 % of these infections are caused by viruses, which run
their course regardless of what medications are offered. The prescription of
antibiotics to treat cold symptoms is one of the more futile actions of MDs,
responding to patient demand. The common cold is the most prevalent form of
viral infection caused by viruses such as rhino and corona viruses. More
virulent virus such as influenza and adenoviruses can begin with cold symptoms
and progress to involve the lung in patterns of inflammation that may involve
bronchi (bronchitis), bronchioles (bronchiolitis) or alveoli (alveolitis, a.k.a.
The ubiquitous presence of fungi in both indoor and outdoor environments is a
potential health threat that is poorly understood and almost ignored in
medicine. Molds reproduce by releasing spores into the air. Mold spores are
usually more abundant than plant pollens. Molds grow mycelia, branching
thread-like structures that infiltrate materials. Spore bearing structures,
conidiophores, grow from mycelia.
Chronic inflammation is always an immune mediated process. The key questions
are what antigens initiate the inflammation? Chronic inflammation leads to
scarring and obstructive lung disease.