Respiratory system conditions are medical illnesses or diseases that affect the lungs or how people breathe. These conditions can be serious and often require medication and medical interventions to treat. Left untreated, respiratory system conditions can be fatal. Even mild conditions can develop into more complicated problems and should be taken seriously from the onset of symptoms. Respiratory conditions can make choking more likely.
Most Common Respiratory Conditions
There are many respiratory conditions that can develop over time or from another illness. Some of the most common conditions also require consistent and extensive medical interventions to treat. As people age, they are more likely to develop a respiratory condition. Some of the most common respiratory conditions include:
- Asthma: Asthma is very common among respiratory conditions and can be treated with an inhaler. Asthma causes inflammation of your airways, which makes it hard to breathe.
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD): COPD changes the way that patients breathe, making it difficult to exhale. It can develop over time and is treated by a series of treatment options that fit the associated symptoms.
- Bronchitis: Bronchitis is a condition where patients cough often because the glands that produce mucus in the lungs are overactive. This usually happens when there is an infection, and it is treated with antibiotics and other treatments.
- Emphysema: Emphysema is a type of COPD (inability to exhale) caused by damage to lung tissue. There is no treatment for emphysema since the damage to the lungs is so extensive, it becomes irreparable.
- Cancer: Lung cancer can develop for several reasons since it is an out-of-control reproduction of mutated lung cells. It is treated like any other form of cancer with radiation or surgery.
- Pleural effusion: Pleural effusion is a buildup of fluid just outside the lungs that interferes with how people breathe. The fluid limits breathing and can crush the lungs until they cannot work. The treatment involves removing the fluid and closing the access point where it is leaking in.
- Pneumonia: Pneumonia is a lung infection and is very common. While many people recover from it, it can lead to complications and be fatal under certain conditions.
There are many other respiratory conditions and treatment options. Anyone that develops a respiratory condition or is showing signs of a condition should seek medical attention as soon as possible to prevent complications.
Medical Choking Risk
Choking is a common risk for everyone but is especially important to examine in seniors, children, and people with respiratory conditions. Choking is a blockage of the airways that stops someone from breathing. One of the most common ways for someone to choke is to eat something that is too big and gets stuck in their throat.
To avoid everyday choking hazards, make sure that the food someone eats is the appropriate size and consistency. For example, many seniors have difficulty chewing and may have fake teeth. If they fail to chew food properly, large pieces become a choking hazard. Instead, serve foods that already come in small portions, are soft, or are liquids. Age-related changes to eating and swallowing impact frailty and increase the risk of choking in older adults.
Acute vs. Chronic Respiratory System Conditions
There are two types of respiratory system conditions: chronic conditions and acute conditions. Chronic conditions, like asthma, develop slowly and are less likely to be cured. Instead, many people treat the condition and the symptoms to live with the disease. Acute conditions develop quickly and are generally severe. Most acute conditions require immediate medical attention and can be fatal.
Foreign body aspiration is an acute respiratory condition where a small object gets stuck in a person’s airway. Oftentimes, it is food related. While not all cases of foreign body aspiration are immediately fatal, they are all dangerous for the patients. The obstruction can cause breathing issues and can shift to block the airway entirely. Treat every case of foreign body aspiration as a medical emergency and seek help right away to prevent serious life-threatening complications
Steps to Keep Seniors Safe
Seniors are in the high-risk group for respiratory system conditions. To protect seniors, focus on reducing as many causes of respiratory conditions as possible. Some things to help reduce choking hazards include lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking or focusing on basic life skills like eating and swallowing. Also, seek regular medical evaluations and treatment when conditions are discovered. Seniors should see a doctor for an evaluation at least twice per year, or more often if symptoms of a condition begin to emerge. Early intervention is the key to avoiding serious long-term outcomes.
Contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm
With so many seniors in nursing homes, you might wonder who regulates nursing homes and makes sure that elderly residents are safe from some of the causes of respiratory conditions. For example, the Illinois Department of Public Health lists regulations that should protect residents, but you cannot always rely on facilities to follow these measures. Neglectful staff may risk the health of an elderly loved one, which can lead to various respiratory conditions that can hurt or even kill vulnerable residents.
Seniors with respiratory system conditions are at an increased risk of choking. Nursing homes have an obligation to take extra care of residents with these conditions to ensure that they remain safe during mealtimes. If your loved one has survived a choking episode while under the care of a nursing home, they could be entitled to compensation. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 842-6336 to learn more.