Wednesday, July 24, 2019

9/11 Asthma Cases & the Firefighters' Cough Continues to Plague First Responders

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FOREWORD by: Dr. Jesse A. Stoff
Recently in the news, they're talking a lot about asbestos and asbestos-related cancers due to 9/11 exposure because when the Twin Towers collapsed, all the asbestos that was in there for insulation was aerosolized. And when you breathe that stuff in, in small particles that have been micronized from the explosion and compression phenomena, when those particles get lodged in the lungs, the body doesn't have a good way to excrete it.   Because lung tissue (unlike liver tissue for example) heals by scarring and not regeneration, when the lungs are exposed to chronic irritants that the body can't get rid of, chronic inflammation and irritation ultimately leads to the death of lung cells called pneumocytes.  That area of damage causes bronchiectasis and scar tissue formation which can lead to COPD and the diseases associated with that including cardiovascular problems and death.  [1] (source: Huntington Patch)


ASTHMA: A MAJOR PREVALENCE WITH FIRST 9/11 RESPONDERS
Fact: no two individuals are ever the same especially when it comes to the physiological effects of envrionmental health hazards- such as those from a disaster zone like Ground Zero. We have all seen countless cases of health issues appearing for the first time 10-15 years after 2001, and the same includes respiratory disorders like ASTHMA.

Where logic may dictate that  the giant plume of noxious dust should equate to a widepsread case of pulmonary issues within moments of contact, physicians have observed a variety of effects depending on body types (reflecting genetic makeup) or possibly a unique tolerance level that may actually resist or even 'hide' any symptoms until well past a decade from the exposure.  Others may even continue to show zero evidence of negative effects at all (or for now).

"THE TELLTALE COUGH"- EXPLAINED
According to Dr. Paul Schulster, (pulmonologist from Oceanside, NY) the COUGH can say a lot, but often misleads the patient as a "nothing" or a "simple little cough".  For firefighters, it is usually a telltale sign of various possible issues. The first syndrome often comes from a post-nasal drip. The second most common cause is from irritation, inflammation and bronchiospasm. Third is Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. My 9/11-related patients that have GERD starts with that warning cough while others' coughs can trigger the asthma.  Finally, Irritative Cough Syndrome can also happen where one cough leads to another cough, irritating the airway, exacerbating another cough - and then another.

Having a cough here or a wheeze there is not enough for most first responders to raise the flag of alarm. Seasoned specialists like Dr. Schulster recognizes that unique and unusual symptoms or maladies do not reach the patient's consciousness for quite some time.  Ignoring or not paying more attention to these "little" anomalies tend to often be the norm.  These coughs may progressively grow worse over the years and then one day they begin to wheeze a little more than usual and wind up with advancing shortness of breath.  Once this becomes significant and finally enters their consciousness, only then will the thought of seeking medical help actually come to mind.













DIAGNOSTIC OPTIONS
Oftentimes, an exam from the pulmonologist starts with the CAT scans of the chest. The firefighters are being tracked for pulmonary nodules. They're referred to as sub-centimeter nodules, which are so small that you can't read it. "You don't really see them on a plain X-ray, chest X-rays, PA and lateral. A lot of these first responders already come to me with CAT scans from the past and have been followed by World Trade Center program and the FDNY doctors that are also pulmonary doctors"- states Dr. Schulster.

In a pulmonologist's tool kit exists certain standard pulmonary function examss- including the SPIROMETRY [2].  This test estimates the narrowing of your bronchial tubes by checking how much air you can exhale after a deep breath and how fast you can breathe out [5].   This allows us to  see the best way of determining the lung function in numbers, more or less, is a complete pulmonary function test.  Next is the METHACHOLINE CHALLENGE [3] - also known as an asthma trigger that, when inhaled, will cause mild constriction of your airways.  If you react to the methacholine, you likely have asthma. This test may be used even if your initial lung function test is normal. [5]   Another test used is THE COLD AIR CHALLENGE [4]. The  patients generally come with having had those in the past and most are positive for asthma. In the asthmatics. 

Inevitably, multiple poisons inhaled in 'the pile' trigger disorders that are obtained on a longterm basis. The isocyanates and the aldehyde may trigger the asthma, "but I'm not certain if we really know the specific cause of their 9/11 based asthma. There's a long list of toxins that irritate and inflame. The probable causes of Asthma are either chronic of acute inflammation. As they breathed in the 9/11 dust, they breathed in 30 of those toxins, causing inflammation in the airways which then led to chronic reactions."

The sub-centimeter nodules seems to be frequent with 9/11 responders. The good news is that most of them turn out to be benign.  One follows these nodules for a couple of years with images and CAT scans because they're often too small to really see on plain chest X-rays. And if they remain the same size, they get smaller over a few years, then they're considered benign. And then that's how we deal with it.

Concluding Dr. Schulster's interview, we found that identifying a chronic respiratory disorder like Asthma can be quite involved that there are various diagnostic solutions and treatment options available depending on its classification or severity. Especially in the case of a first responder's long-term exposure to toxic fumes, recognizing the source(s) of contamination can greatly help the physician establish the proper treatment strategy for the patient.


EXTRA: ASTHMA TREATMENT OPTIONS  
source: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/asthma/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20369660
Prevention and long-term control are key in stopping asthma attacks before they start. Treatment usually involves learning to recognize your triggers, taking steps to avoid them and tracking your breathing to make sure your daily asthma medications are keeping symptoms under control. In case of an asthma flare-up, you may need to use a quick-relief inhaler, such as albuterol.

Medications
The right medications for you depend on a number of things — your age, symptoms, asthma triggers and what works best to keep your asthma under control. Preventive, long-term control medications reduce the inflammation in your airways that leads to symptoms. Quick-relief inhalers (bronchodilators) quickly open swollen airways that are limiting breathing. In some cases, allergy medications are necessary. Long-term asthma control medications, generally taken daily, are the cornerstone of asthma treatment. These medications keep asthma under control on a day-to-day basis and make it less likely you'll have an asthma attack.  See complete list of TREATMENT options and full descriptions @ MAYO CLINIC's website:
https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/asthma/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20369660

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STAFF EDITOR 
JESSE STOFF, MD, HMD, FAAFP is a highly-credentialed medical expert studying all medical remedies in pursuit of resolving the most challenging health issues of our time. In many circles, he is recognized for his 35+ years of dedicated work in immunology and advanced clinical research in modern CANCER treatments. He has spoken worldwide in some of the most sought-after medical conferences about his experiences and analyses on the study of human disease. His integrative practice (INTEGRATIVE MEDICINE OF NY, Westbury, NY) has been continually providing all patients with the many comprehensive clinical options and modalities available- including "ONCO-IMMUNOLOGY", the science of battling cancer cells and reversing pre-cancerous conditions through a complete prevention program that has earned him great success in this field.  For more information, visit: www.Dr.JesseStoff.com


CONTRIBUTING 9/11 PHOTOGRAPHER
KEVIN P. COUGHLIN is a Pulitzer Prize-sharing photojournalist, writer, director of photography, pilot, and aerial cinematographer. He is the current executive photographer to New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. His photographs at Ground Zero following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and while covering funerals and memorial services of fallen fire fighters, police officers, and emergency personnel killed as a result of the attacks are included in the 2002 Pulitzer Prize awarded to The New York Times for Public Service. In addition to The New York Times, his photographs have appeared in the New York Post, New York Daily News, Newsday, The Philadelphia Inquirer,  https://www.kevincoughlinphotography.com/


PROFESSIONAL INTERVIEWED IN THIS ARTICLE
PAUL L. SCHULSTER, MD PC is a practicing Pulmonary Disease Specialist in Oceanside, NY. Dr. Schulster graduated from University of Kentucky College of Medicine in 1972 and has been in practice for 47 years. He completed a residency at Queens Hospital Center. Dr. Schulster also specializes in Internal Medicine. Dr. Schulster also practices at South Nassau Community Hospital. One Healthy Way Oceanside NY. His private practice is located at: 442 Waukena Avenue, Oceanside, New York. 11572 |  (516) 599-8234



References:
1)The 9/11 Attacks are Still Going On with Asbestos Based Cancers- by: Jesse Stoffhttps://patch.com/new-york/huntington/9-11-attacks-are-still-going-asbestos-based-cancers
2) Spirometry: https://www.healthline.com/health/spirometry
3) Methacholine Challenge Test: https://www.lung.org/lung-health-and-diseases/lung-procedures-and-tests/methacholine-challenge-test.html
4) Cold Air Challenge: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1526054205000941
5) Asthma/Mayo Clinic Report: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/asthma/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20369660


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