Pulmonary Disorders

 

Asthma

Asthma is a disorder that causes the airways of the lungs to narrow, causing shortness of breath, wheezing, and chest tightness. It is caused by inflammation in the airways that reduces the amount of air that can pass by. Asthma can be triggered by dust, animal hair or dander, mold, pollen, and other allergy-causing substances.

Symptoms

  • Cough
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pulling in of the skin on the ribs when breathing


Treatment

Asthma can be treated by either using drugs to prevent attacks or using them during attacks to provide relief. Long term medication such as steroids and long-acting inhalers is typically used when a person has a moderate to severe case of asthma. Quick relief drugs are used to control symptoms during an attack, and should be taken when a person is coughing, wheezing, or having trouble breathing.

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COPD

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is one of the most common lung diseases, and typically comes in the form of chronic bronchitis or emphysema. Chronic bronchitis is characterized as a long-term cough with mucus, and emphysema involves the destruction of the lungs over time. Smoking is the leading cause of COPD, and the more a person smokes, the more they become likely to develop this disease. Other causes include exposure to certain gases, heavy amounts of pollution, and second hand smoke.

Symptoms may include:

  • Cough with or without mucus
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent respiratory infections
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing

Treatment

While there is no cure for COPD, the best way to slow lung damage is to quit smoking. Treatments are also available to help relieve symptoms, which include inhalers and steroids to help reduce lung inflammation. In severe cases, bronchodilators through a nebulizer, oxygen therapy, and assistance during breathing from a machine may be needed.

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Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is cancer that starts in the lungs. Most cases of lung cancer begin in the cells that line the bronchi, which are the small tubes that disperse air. While cigarettes are the leading cause of lung cancer, asbestos, exposure to chemicals, high levels of air pollution, and a family history of lung cancer can all increase the risk for cancer.

Symptoms


  • Chest pain
  • Cough that doesn't go away
  • Coughing up blood
  • Fatigue
  • Losing weight without trying
  • Loss of appetite
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing

Other symptoms that may also occur with lung cancer, often in the late stages:

  • Bone pain or tenderness
  • Eyelid drooping
  • Facial paralysis
  • Hoarseness or changing voice
  • Joint pain
  • Nail problems
  • Shoulder pain
  • Swallowing difficulty
  • Swelling of the face or arms
  • Weakness

Treatment

Treatment for lung cancer first depends on the stage of the cancer and whether you have small cell cancer or non-small cell cancer. Treatment can include radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and surgery.

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Bronchitis:

Bronchitis is characterized as swelling and inflammation of the main air passages to the lungs. This swelling narrows the airways, making it harder to breathe. Bronchitis usually follows a cold or flu-like infection, and is typically caused by a virus, or in some cases, bacteria.

Symptoms

  • Cough that causes mucus
  • Chest discomfort
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Wheezing

Treatment

Most people do not need antibiotics for bronchitis, and the infection will typically go away after one week. A person affected with bronchitis should rest and drink plenty of fluids.

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Pneumonia

Pneumonia is a respiratory condition in which there is an infection of the lung. It is a common illness, and can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi.

Symptoms

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Shaking Chills
  • Shortness of breath

Treatment

Many people can be treated at home for pneumonia. In cases of bacterial pneumonia, prescribed antibiotics may help a person get better. Do not take cough or cold medicine unless directed by a doctor, as coughing helps remove mucus from lungs. If the pneumonia is severe enough to require a hospital visit, oxygen therapy and breathing treatments may be used.

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Bronchiectasis

Bronchiectasis is the destruction and widening of the large airways, and is most often caused by recurrent inflammation or infection of the airways. It most often begins during childhood as a complication received from inhaling a foreign object. Symptoms occur gradually over time, and can occur months or years after the event that causes bronchiectasis.

Symptoms

  • Bluish skin colors
  • Breath odor
  • Clubbing of fingers
  • Coughing up blood
  • Coughing that gets worse while lying on one side

Treatment

Treatment is aimed at controlling infections and bronchial secretions, as well as preventing complications. Antibiotics, bronchodilators, and expectorants are often prescribed for infections, and regular drainage to remove bronchial secretions is a routine part of the treatment. Surgery to repair the lung tissue may be needed if the medicine does not work.

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Pleural Effusion

Pleural effusion is a buildup of fluid between the layers of tissue that line the lungs and chest cavity. While your body produces small amounts of pleural fluid to lubricate this tissue, pleural effusion is characterized as an obsessive collection of this fluid. There are two different types of pleural effusion: transudative and exudative. Transudative pleural effusions are typically caused by congestive heart failure, and occur when fluid leaks into pleural space because of increased pressure in the blood vessels or low blood protein. Exudative pleural effusions are caused by blocked lymph vessels or blood vessels, tumors, and lung injury.bronchiectasis.

Symptoms

  • Chest pain
  • Breath odor
  • Rapid breathing
  • Hiccups
  • Fever
  • Shortness of breath

Treatment

Treatment typically involves removing the fluid, determining the cause of buildup, and preventing it from happening again. The cause of the buildup will also need to be treated as well. Antibiotics may be prescribed if caused by infection, surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy may be needed if caused by cancer. Medications to treat heart failure are needed if caused by congestive heart failure.

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Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection that typically affects the lungs, but can spread to other organs. Breathing in the air droplets from a cough or sneeze of an affected person can cause infection, although the disease may remain dormant and without symptoms for weeks.

Symptoms

  • Cough
  • Coughing up blood
  • Fatigue
  • Excessive sweating, especially at night
  • Fever
  • Weigh Loss

Treatment

Treatment of active tuberculosis involves antibiotics to kill the bacteria. A combination of drugs, usually four, is prescribed to fight the infection, and usually have to be taken at different times of the day for up to six months. An affected person may need to stay at home or a hospital for two to four weeks to avoid spreading the disease.

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