Understanding and Diagnosing Bronchospasm

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What is Bronchospasm? 

Bronchospasm is when the muscles in the lungs tighten and the amount of airflow is restricted. Patients who suffer from certain medical conditions or have allergies may experience bronchospasms as a side effect. For example, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder, chronic bronchitis, emphysema and lung infections caused by viruses, bacteria or a fungus can result in bronchospasms

What Causes Bronchospasm?

Bronchospasm symptoms is caused by an increased sensitivity of the airways to certain triggers, such as: 

  • Smoking
  • Environmental allergens
  • Cold weather
  • Exercise
  • Some food additives
  • Chemicals 
  • Allergens

For many, the symptoms include wheezing, difficulty getting enough air and pain or tightness in the chest and back. These triggers cause tightening of the muscles around the airway. At the same time, the lining of the airways swell and produce excess mucus. All of these reactions narrow the airways and make it difficult to breathe.

Side Effects of Bronchospasm? 

North Carolina patients who suffer from bronchospasms may experience a reduction in their airflow by up to 15 percent. This is because bronchospasms occur when the muscles of the lungs and tubes that allow air to come into the body constrict or tighten. While bronchospasms are not contagious in themselves, the viruses and bacteria that can cause them can be transmitted to others.

A doctor or, in severe cases, a pulmonologist, will need to diagnose the condition before he or she can prescribe a treatment. Common tests used for diagnosis include lung volume tests, pulse oximetry tests, arterial blood gas tests and chest X-rays or computed tomography scans. If it is believed that exercise causes bronchospasms, a doctor may have the patient undergo an eucapnic voluntary hyperventilation test. Depending on the results and what causes the spasms, a doctor may prescribe short-acting bronchodilators or long-acting bronchodilators and steroids.

Failure to Diagnose

The failure to diagnose certain conditions that affect a person's ability to breathe properly can have a major impact on his or her health and mental state. The condition could prevent a person from being able to exercise to maintain his or her weight or even work in certain careers or industries. If there is evidence that a doctor repeatedly failed to diagnose the patient or meet the basic standards of care, a medical malpractice attorney could potentially be of assistance in attempting to obtain appropriate compensation.

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