Health Tips for Seniors

Archive for May, 2006

Examining the Lungs

Examination of the Lungs

1. Inhale and exhale normally while at rest. Normal painless breathing varies between sixteen to twenty breaths per minute. Excessively rapid breathing may be due to a body fever or lung disease, while painful breathing is usually the pain of pleurisy.

Fig. 46. Like tree roots, the air way from the throat branches into the spongy lung tissue. Millions of tiny air balloons on its branches are thus connected to the outside; lung expansion sucks in fresh air and contraction forces out exhaust air. The cycle is completed about 20 times per minute for effective respiration. An adult’s deepest breath generally has a volume exceeding one gallon of air.

2. Place a palm on each side of the chest, breathe deeply several times. No vibrating or rasping sensation should be felt, no wheezing or gurgling sound should be heard. Detection of such abnormalities may indicate asthma or bronchitis.

3. After breathing deeply several times, exhale completely and then cough until some sputum is obtained. Normal sputum contains no blood flecks under any circumstances. It may mean tuberculosis, lung abscess, or bronchiectasis.

4. Measure the breath volume by exhaling a deep breath completely into a toy balloon. Clamp and push the balloon down into an over-flowing water filled pail. Withdraw the balloon and measure the water necessary to fill up the pail. It should equal at least one gallon-the same as the least normal breathing capacity of the lungs. A total breath volume, markedly under one gallon in volume, may indicate heart disease, emphysema or other lung destroying diseases.

Diverticulum and Stricture of the Esophagus

Diverticulum of the Esophagus. A diverticulum is a ballooned-out weak spot on the esophagus, usually in the neck level, and may cause swallowing difficulty when food lodges in it. This difficulty does not completely obstruct the swallowing tube, but often goes on giving difficulty for a long time. An x-ray examination is usually required to identify it, and treatment is often unnecessary.

Stricture of the Esophagus. Stricture of the esophagus is simply a narrowing of the swallowing tube, partly obstructing its channel. Strictures in the over fifty group are usually the result of a scar which contracts, as all scars do. The scars are the result of an ulceration type disease of the swallowing tube, possibly from many years of heartburn (esophagitis). Experienced medical attention is necessary for adequate care.


Fig. 44. A diverticulum, a blind pouch of the esophagus, develops through weakening disease processes. It fills with food and may cause vomiting, choking or pain. It can be corrected surgically if necessary.


Fig. 45. Esophageal stricture is usually a result of scar contracture, possibly caused in early years by swallowing corrosive liquid. It also may result in later years from long-standing irritation, such as heartburn, and of course, also accompanies cancer and other growths within its lumen.

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