Dr. Sridhar K. Iyer MD, FCCP, FAASM

Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine

COPD Emphysema

COPD stands for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. It encompasses two types of disease processes namely chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Quite often, people who suffer from COPD show a combination of features of both disease processes. In lay person's term, COPD means persistent lung disease with features of airway narrowing. To be more specific, bronchitis means inflammation of the bronchi or the larger airways of the lungs whereas emphysema means destruction to the smaller airways and alveoli or airsacs of the lungs. Thus COPD is commonly used to describe chronic bronchitis, emphysema, or both.


Asthma is a chronic disease of the respiratory system. It causes episodes in which the tissue in a person’s bronchial passage (the airway leading to the lungs) becomes inflamed and constricted, making it difficult to breathe. These episodes are often unpredictable.

During an asthmatic episode (often referred to as an asthma attack), an individual is likely to become short of breath. He or she may begin coughing or “wheezing,” - a term that refers to the sound made when a person struggles to inhale air through a constricted airway. Though an individual may appear to be gasping for air during an attack, he or she is likely having trouble exhaling air from the lungs. This is because asthmatics have a much easier time breathing in than breathing out.

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in one or both of the lungs.

The body is made up of different types of cells that normally divide and multiply in an orderly way. These new cells replace older cells. This process of cell birth and renewal occurs constantly in the body. Abnormal cells also periodically normally appear but are removed by natural defense mechanisms.

Cancer, also known as a malignant growth, occurs when the body's natural defenses, such as certain parts of the immune and other protective systems, cannot stop the uncontrolled cell division, cancer begins. These abnormal cells become greater and greater in number, and come together to form a tumor, which is a cellular growth that forms a progressively enlarging mass. Such tumors are benign unless they invade surrounding tissues and organs, in which case they are malignant.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a disorder characterized by a reduction or pause of breathing (airflow) during sleep. It is common among adults but rare among children. Although a diagnosis of sleep apnea often will be suspected on the basis of a person's medical history, there are several tests that can be used to confirm the diagnosis. The treatment of sleep apnea may be either surgical or nonsurgical.

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Snoring is a sound resulting from turbulent airflow that causes the tissues of the nose and throat to vibrate during sleep. The turbulent air flow is related to a narrowing at some point in the nose, mouth, or throat. Different people who snore may have various reasons for the narrowing of the air spaces leading to snoring. Any person can snore, and studies estimate that 45 % of men and 30% of women snore on a regular basis.

Insomnia is defined as difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep, or both, despite adequate opportunity and time to sleep, leading to impaired daytime functioning. Insomnia may be due to poor quality or quantity of sleep. Insomnia affects people of all ages and is very common. It occurs in 30% to 50% of the general population. Approximately 10% of the population may suffer from chronic (long-standing) insomnia.

Restless Legs

Restless leg syndrome is a common cause of painful legs. The leg pain of restless leg syndrome typically eases with motion of the legs and becomes more noticeable at rest. Restless leg syndrome also features worsening of symptoms during the early evening or later at night. The characteristic nighttime worsening of symptoms in persons with restless legs syndrome frequency leads to insomnia.

Smoking Cessation

Smoking Cessation is the process followed to quit smoking. Smoking causes cancer, breathing problems, heart attacks, and stroke. Secondhand smoke causes asthma and breathing problems. Eliminating smoking can greatly reduce the occurrence of coronary heart disease and other forms of cardiovascular disease.

Smoking cessation is important in the medical management of many contributors to heart attack. These include atherosclerosis (fatty buildups in arteries), thrombosis (blood clots), coronary artery spasm and cardiac arrhythmia (heart rhythm problems). Quitting smoking also can help manage other disorders, especially arteriosclerotic peripheral vascular disease (fatty buildups in peripheral arteries) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.


Narcolepsy is a neurological disorder marked by a sudden recurrent uncontrollable compulsion to sleep. Narcolepsy is often associated with cataplexy (a sudden loss of muscle tone and paralysis of voluntary muscles associated with a strong emotion), sleep paralysis (immobility of the body that occurs in the transition from sleep to wakefulness), what are called hypnagogic hallucinations (pre-sleep dreams) and automatic behaviors (such as doing something "automatically" and not remembering afterwards how one did it). 125,000 Americans are estimated to have narcolepsy. It strikes males and females and all races.

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