Respiratory conditions can take many forms; from mild nuisance cases to severe issues, including lung cancer. Understanding the symptoms and early detection of potentially severe illnesses are key to preserving lung health.
There are steps you can take to prevent disease and boost your respiratory health in case you do get sick. Dr. Houssam Oueini, a pulmonologist with Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital, emphasizes that taking good care of your lungs can improve your quality of life and protect against respiratory illnesses. It’s important to know that anyone can have mild to severe symptoms with either COVID-19 or flu.
“More serious complications from respiratory illness are a bigger issue for older adults and anyone who may have underlying health conditions. Yet, it’s possible to experience severe symptoms at any age,” Oueini said.
Monitor your symptoms if you’re not feeling well. Mild symptoms include having a low-grade fever, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat, mild cough and mild body aches. If you experience such symptoms, get tested for COVID-19. Stay home and isolate yourself from others to avoid spreading illness, even if you test negative for COVID-19.
For moderate symptoms, including fever over 100.4 degrees, persistent cough, temporary shortness of breath and feeling like you need to stay in bed. Oueini stresses getting tested for COVID-19 and contacting your doctor about worsening symptoms.
“If you experience severe symptoms, including difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, wheezing, pain or pressure in the chest, confusion, trouble staying awake and bluish lips or face, you should seek emergency medical care,” Oueini said.
Mild cases of respiratory illness can often be managed with rest, fluids and fever-reducing medicines at home. However, don’t wait to see a doctor if you’re in a high-risk group and experiencing worsening symptoms. Mild or moderate symptoms can quickly become severe for older adults and those who have heart disease, diabetes, cancer or chronic respiratory problems.
If you have chronic respiratory conditions, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), it’s important to manage the condition closely with your doctor. “There are things we are doing to reduce exposure risk for patients, including telehealth appointments and video visits,” said Oueini.
Oueini recommends taking steps like getting regular exercise, quitting smoking and vaping and minimizing exposure to allergens to keep your lungs healthy.
“The best thing everyone can do to help protect each other is to follow recommended respiratory practices,” said Oueini.
New Lung Cancer Screening Guidelines
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) released its revised 2021 guidelines that established those who meet the following criteria as eligible for lung cancer screening tests:
•Adults aged 50 to 80 years
•A tobacco smoking history of 20 pack-years
•Current smokers or those who have quit within the past 15 years
•No current signs or symptoms of lung cancer
•No chest CT scan in the last year
The revised guidelines are designed to make more people eligible for screening. A written order is required for all lung cancer screening procedures. For more information on the Lung Cancer Screening Program at Houston Methodist Baytown, call 281-420-8809 or visit houstonmethodist.org/lung-screening.
Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital is taking every necessary precaution during the coronavirus pandemic to keep you and our staff members safe, including, screening all patients, ensuring only those without COVID-19 symptoms are seen in the office; wearing masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) while providing patient care; reorganizing waiting rooms and check-in lines to ensure social distancing, and implementing additional sanitation processes to disinfect all equipment and surfaces.
The experts with Houston Methodist Lung Associates at Baytown—Dr. Oueini, Skantha Manjunath, MD and Dr. Shawn Tittle—provide care for a wide range of respiratory conditions, such as asthma, COPD, pulmonary fibrosis and emphysema. For more information and to schedule an appointment, visit houstonmethodist.org/baytown, or call 281-428-4510.
About Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital
Houston Methodist Baytown Hospital has provided Baytown and east Harris, Liberty and Chambers counties with quality medical care since opening its doors in 1948. The hospital has grown throughout the years with the community, providing comprehensive care at all stages of life. As a health care leader, the hospital is proud to have a fully integrated residency program focused on educating and inspiring future practitioners. Today, Houston Methodist Baytown provides some of the most advanced and innovative procedures while never wavering from its focus on compassionate and patient-centered care. Houstonmethodist.org/baytown.