Greetings, dear readers
When the word breathing is mentioned, the first structure that most people think of is a pair of lungs. Not many associate blood or, more specifically, red blood cells with breathing, despite the fact that these cells have a direct link to the respiratory system. Red blood cells are made to deliver oxygen to other cells and transport carbon dioxide to the lungs. They are biconcave in shape, meaning that the surface of the cell curves inwards on both sides, which makes travelling through blood vessels easier. Due to being uniquely disc-like and flexible in structure, the surface area to volume ratio is increased, enabling greater and more accessible diffusion space for oxygen and carbon dioxide.
Red blood cells lack nuclei, mitochondria and ribosomes, which are generally present in most cells. This creates more space for the millions of haemoglobin molecules that fill red blood cells in order to bind oxygen and carbon dioxide. Thus the specialised structure of the red blood cell gives it a distinct advantage in gas exchange during its transportation around the human body.
Oxygen enters the body via breathing. It travels to the alveoli of the lungs and diffuses into the bloodstream from there. The haemoglobin in the red blood cells joins onto the oxygen and carries it around the body. From the bloodstream, oxygen can diffuse into the cells of the body. Once respiration has occurred, carbon dioxide leaves the body in the same way that oxygen enters it and the energy left behind aids the function of the cell.
Due to the importance of the red blood cell and respiratory system relationship, health conditions which affect the lungs and inhibit the function of the blood cells can become problematic and even life threatening. A number of these diseases have been identified over time. Some common or well-known respiratory conditions include:
Asthma is a long term condition that affects the small tubes carrying air in and back out of the lungs, known as bronchi. Individuals suffering from asthma will have inflamed bronchi that are more sensitive than usual and which will become irritated by certain airborne particles which are collectively known as triggers. Upon contact with these triggers, the muscles of inflamed airways constrict, causing them to narrow, and the production of mucus in the lungs (phlegm) increases significantly. As a result, symptoms of asthma include: wheezing, breathlessness, coughing and a tight feeling in the chest.
Bronchitis occurs when an infection irritates an individual’s bronchi, causing severe inflammation and a build up of phlegm in their airways. In response to the aggravation, the body tries to shift the mucus from the individual’s lungs through coughing. Accordingly, one of the main symptoms of bronchitis is a cough which may or may not bring up yellow-grey phlegm. Other signs could be wheezing, body aches, a running nose and having a sore throat or headache.
Pneumonia is usually the result of tissue in the lungs getting infected and becoming inflamed. At the end of all the tubes leading into the lungs are tiny sacs of air, which swell up and become filled with liquid when they are infected. When this happens, the individual will most likely have a cough that may be dry or may produce thick phlegm that could be yellow, green, brownish and even blood stained. Other symptoms of pneumonia include difficulty in breathing even during rest, chest pain, palpitations, fever, sweating, shivering, loss of appetite and generally not feeling well.
Emphysema, unlike the sudden and rapidly damaging pneumonia, is the gradual deterioration of the air sacs in the lungs, known as the alveoli. Infection and inflammation cause the air sac to swell and rupture, creating space in the lungs which reduces the organ’s ability to function as needed by the body. The symptoms of emphysema affect the body slowly, sometimes over a period of years. Normally the effects are not noticed until they become debilitating. Some examples of the way an individual may be affected by emphysema are shortness of breath upon rest and exertion alike, avoidance of activities which increase breathlessness, signs of de-oxygenation in the lips and fingernails and a lack of mental alertness.
T.B of the lung, also known as pulmonary T.B, is caused by a bacteria called mycobacterium tuberculosis. Upon infecting the the lungs, the bacteria either develops slowly or remains inactive or latent in the lungs. Symptoms may not manifest until months after the individual is first infected by the bacteria. Latent T.B is symptomless and may remain inactive until close contact is made with someone else carrying the same infection. Though it is contagious, T.B does not spread to other people as quickly as other illnesses such as a cold or the flu. If left untreated, the disease could prove fatal. Active T.B patients usually experience some of the following symptoms: a cough that lasts for longer than three weeks and brings up blood stained phlegm, increasing trouble with breathing, lack of appetite, weight loss, extreme fatigue, heavy sweating at night, long lasting, unexplained pain and a high temperature that is 38ºC or above.
Due to the fact that many of these conditions share basic pathophysiology and symptoms with little variation, most patients could be treated by placing cups on their systemic points as often as their individual situations allow, aiming to strengthen their immune system and therefore fight off the infection and inflammation affecting their lungs. In addition to this, the practitioner could aim to remove any excess fluid and cellular waste which may have initially caused the patient to develop the disease and replace it with nutrient rich blood cells to repair any resulting tissue damage. In this way, Hijama can benefit those who have respiratory conditions and improve their quality of life.
We hope that this information has benefitted you, our dear readers.
Thank you for reading!
The Pure Therapy Team