Lung diseases and respiratory diseases are the most common reasons for shortness of breath. When you breathe in, energy enters the body through the lungs with the help of oxygen. The sensitive organ reacts promptly to irritants and closes some blood vessels if too little oxygen is taken in. This leads to lung diseases.
What are lung diseases
According to Acronymmonster, lung diseases usually show up as symptoms of the lungs and general symptoms. Associated with coughing, dyspnea and chest pain, accompanied by loss of appetite, fever and night sweats, a doctor should be consulted if there is any suspicion.
They are divided into acute and chronic lung diseases and lung tumors. Pneumonia, bronchopneumonia and acute bronchitis are among the acute lung diseases. In addition to COPD, bronchial asthma, pulmonary emphysema, chronic lung diseases also include pulmonary fibrosis. In case of suspicion, the consultation of a specialist is inevitable.
If you have trouble breathing, your lungs are lacking air. Smoking aggravates the condition of lung diseases. Drugs and sports therapies are possible treatment options, and step-by-step therapy is possible for asthma. Lung diseases such as a pulmonary embolism are delayed blood clots and can be fatal if left undetected.
Clinical examinations are necessary for the diagnosis of lung diseases. Computed tomography, chest X-ray, lung scintigraphy or magnetic resonance imaging are other diagnostic methods to clarify the extent of lung diseases.
Bronchoscopy and mediastinoscopy are methods from endoscopy. To determine lung capacity, lung function diagnostics are used in the form of spirometry or body plethysmography. In bronchial asthma, there is a low whistling and humming noise when breathing in and out.
A severe cough accompanies bronchitis, and typical cold symptoms such as body aches and headaches, as well as a sore throat, runny nose and fever are also possible. By tapping and listening to the chest, the doctor examines the patient to confirm bronchitis. For further clarification, an X-ray and a large blood count may be carried out to rule out lung diseases such as pneumonia.
Typical & common diseases
- lung infection
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
- bronchial asthma
- pulmonary embolism
- lung cancer
Symptoms, Ailments & Signs
Lung diseases have very different symptoms depending on the exact disease. However, almost all lung diseases have in common that breathing problems occur. Overall, coughing, sputum production, shortness of breath, and shortness of breath are common. Accordingly, there is a reduction in performance in the patient.
This may be temporary in case of acute lung disease (acute bronchitis). In the case of chronic lung disease (COPD), however, this can permanently limit the quality of life. Furthermore, an uncomfortable feeling in the chest often occurs as a symptom of lung diseases. It can be a burning sensation (common with infections), tenderness or a pulling sensation.
Infectious lung diseases, such as pulmonary infections or tuberculosis, also lead to non-specific symptoms. These include fever, increased sweating, loss of appetite and fatigue. Lung cancer, on the other hand, remains in most cases without noticeable symptoms for a long time and usually only becomes apparent when it has spread into the airways. Weight loss and coughing up blood are common symptoms associated with this.
In the case of chronic lung diseases, it is also noticeable that their symptoms (especially coughing and shortness of breath ) worsen with certain stimuli. This includes, for example, dust, cigarette smoke and cold, dry air.
Diagnosis & History
The cause of chronic lung diseases such as bronchial asthma is a chronic inflammatory disease of the airways. Upon contact with triggering substances, the respiratory tract narrows and shortness of breath occurs.
A distinction is made between allergy-triggering and non-allergenic substances in lung diseases such as bronchial asthma. With bronchitis, the mucous membrane that covers the bronchi becomes inflamed. In most cases, viruses are responsible for the development of chronic diseases such as bronchitis, but irritant gases, tobacco or dust also cause additional damage. Stress and weather conditions overwhelm the immune system.
Smoking in particular is the main trigger for lung diseases such as chronic bronchitis. The most common infectious disease is pneumonia, in which the lung tissue is inflamed. The triggers for pneumonia are mostly pneumococci, but also viruses or fungi. The cause of lung diseases such as a pulmonary embolism is usually a thrombosis.
The further course of lung diseases usually depends very much on the exact disease and its severity. For this reason, the further course cannot be universally predicted. As a rule, however, lung diseases always represent a very serious condition for the patient, which can lead to various consequential damages and complications.
The patients often suffer from shortness of breath and also from a loss of consciousness. Likewise, the patient’s internal organs can also be damaged by the lung diseases if the supply of oxygen does not take place in the usual way. Furthermore, the patients usually also suffer from severe fatigue and reduced resilience.
There is also exhaustion. It may also reduce the patient’s life expectancy. As a rule, lung diseases do not heal themselves, so that those affected are dependent on medical treatment in any case. Whether or not there are complications depends heavily on the disease itself. However, a positive course of the disease cannot be guaranteed in every case. Especially in the case of tumor diseases, life expectancy can be reduced.
When should you go to the doctor?
Lung diseases should always be taken seriously because the lungs are one of the vital organs. If problems or non-specific symptoms occur in connection with breathing, a doctor should always be consulted for clarification – even if the affected patient is otherwise healthy. Many lung diseases begin with only mild and non-specific symptoms and symptoms, so that they are not taken seriously at first.
However, early detection also improves the chances of recovery for any lung disease. Members of certain risk groups should pay particular attention to signs of lung diseases. This means, for example, smokers or patients with known chronic lung diseases. If there is a change in breathing and physical performance, this can be related to the condition of the lungs. In any case, a medical examination is required. Since the lungs can also affect circulation and blood flow, a lack of blood flow or poor circulation can also indicate a problem with the lungs.
This is also a case for the doctor, as it should be clarified where the symptoms come from and whether a lung disease could be the reason. Particular care should be taken if lung problems are suspected in children, the elderly and patients with generally poor health, previous illnesses or known lung problems – these should be presented to a doctor if there is any suspicion of a lung problem.
Treatment & Therapy
There is a so-called five-step plan for the treatment of chronic lung diseases such as bronchial asthma. Antibiotics are given to treat the mostly bacterial infection of lung diseases such as bronchitis.
Drinking a lot is advisable, expectorant herbal teas and inhalations help to loosen the bronchial secretions more easily. In the case of lung diseases such as chronic bronchitis, an X-ray is often necessary to rule out bronchial carcinoma, tuberculosis or asthma. A blood test can also provide information. Bronchoscopy is performed if tumors are suspected.
Severe shortness of breath is also treated with long-term oxygen ventilation. Lung tissue that has already been destroyed may have to be removed in the case of lung diseases. In the case of bacterial pneumonia, the administration of antibiotics, supported by special breathing exercises, has proven itself. In the case of lung diseases such as a pulmonary embolism, a distinction is made between four degrees of severity, according to which the treatment is based.
Outlook & Forecast
The prognosis for diseases of the lungs must always be assessed individually. The cause, the underlying disease and the general state of health of the person concerned must be clarified. Poor prospects for a cure are generally given in the case of chronic pre-existing conditions. In most cases, these have a constant course of the disease or are characterized by an increase in existing symptoms.
In the case of cancer, the prognosis is often unfavorable. It depends on the stage of the disease, the treatment options and the success of an initiated cancer therapy. If the cancer cells can be prevented from spreading and if the diseased tissue can be completely removed, recovery is possible. In general, the prognosis for pneumonia is good. Due to the medical possibilities, the inflammatory disease can be cured by administering medication. Additional self-help measures should also be used to support this. To improve health, the consumption of harmful substances such as nicotine or other toxic gases should be avoided.
For many patients, a donor organ is the last resort to recovery. A transplant is associated with numerous risks and side effects. In addition, the organism must accept the donor lung. This represents a particular challenge. If the therapy proceeds without further complications, the patients often report a recovery despite further checks.
In the case of chronic lung diseases such as bronchial asthma, there is no prevention in the narrower sense, but measures to ease the course of the disease and relieve the lungs. Refraining from smoking and exercising also support the process positively.
It is important to strengthen the immune system. Healthy nutrition rich in vitamins, sufficient exercise and enough sleep promote the body’s defense against viruses and bacteria. Many people, especially the elderly, often have compromised immune systems, so a doctor may recommend annual flu shots or even a pneumococcal shot to prevent or reduce lung disease. Smoking cessation is advisable, but contact with toxic dusts and gases should be avoided whenever possible.
Breathing exercises or tapping massages, especially in the back area, are recommended to strengthen the bronchi in the case of lung diseases. Physiotherapy is recommended for high-risk patients after surgery to prevent lung diseases such as pulmonary embolism. In general, drugs that promote thrombosis should be discontinued.
Obesity and smoking should be avoided if possible. Regular exercise is important on long car journeys, on buses, trains and planes. Sufficient drinking supports the entire organism, not only to prevent lung diseases.
If you have survived a lung disease, follow-up examinations are often very important and significant so that this disease does not break out again. If there was a bacterial infection of the respiratory tract, it is advisable to see the doctor treating you again. Only through such a follow-up examination can further complications be ruled out.
Even in the subsequent healing process, the lung disease can break out repeatedly. In particularly bad cases, it can even lead to re-infection if this disease is not properly cured.
Sporting activities should be resumed cautiously, and in general physical stress should be kept as low as possible immediately after the illness. Since the aftercare depends on the severity of the causative disease, it is designed accordingly on an individual basis. In the case of persistent, unpleasant side effects, those affected should have a more detailed examination carried out in order to prevent the lung disease from becoming chronic.
You can do that yourself
Which self-help measures a person affected can take in the event of a lung disease depends on the disorder and what triggered it.
Acute diseases of the lungs, such as pneumonia, are due to infections with pathogens, mostly pneumococci. Pneumonias are particularly common during the cold season. Pneumonia is often preceded by a cold that has not been properly treated. At the first sign of pneumonia, the affected person should consult a doctor immediately. It is also important that the patient takes it easy and, if possible, stays in bed for a few days . A healthy immune system can prevent the onset of pneumonia or at least weaken and shorten the course of the disease. In the cold season in particular, you should therefore look for a vitamin-richdiet and plenty of exercise in the fresh air. Clothing and footwear should be appropriate for the weather to prevent hypothermia.
Allergies are often responsible for chronic diseases of the lungs, such as bronchial asthma. The patient can help to identify and avoid the allergen.
One of the most serious lung diseases is lung cancer, which in the majority of cases is due to regular heavy tobacco use. Heavy smokers should therefore definitely think about quitting or at least have regular check-ups.