Lung Disease and Respiratory System

Lung Disease and Respiratory System

Lung Disease and Respiratory System
Diseases, pollutants and genetics can affect your respiratory health. The simple cold - which is caused by more than 200 different viruses - inflames the upper respiratory tract, resulting in a cough, runny nose and sneezing. A more severe cough combined with mucus is a sign of bronchitis, where the membranes lining the bronchial tubes become inflamed. The inflammatory lung disease asthma affects more than 20 million people, making airways constrict when exposed to irritants like dust, pet dander and cigarette smoke. Pneumonia, another inflammation of the lungs, can occur because of a bacterial or viral infection. People suffering from cystic fibrosis, an inherited lung disease, frequently battle bacterial infections and airways clogged with thick and sticky mucus.

Recently Answered

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    Pulmonary edema is a medical term for fluid buildup in the lungs. It is a serious condition that is often caused by heart disease or heart failure. Pulmonary edema may also be caused by exposure to high altitudes, lung damage, kidney failure, or taking certain medications. It can also be a life-threatening complication of surgery.

    In pulmonary edema, the heart is not able to pump blood efficiently, causing blood to build up in veins in the lungs and fluid to leak into air sacs in the lungs, leading to shortness of breath.

    Symptoms of pulmonary edema may include:
    • severe shortness of breath that may even cause trouble speaking
    • difficulty breathing in a reclined position
    • chest pain or tightness
    • pale skin
    • wheezing
    • coughing, especially coughing up blood
    • sweating
    • blue tint to nails and lips
    • agitation
    Call 911 or go to the emergency room if you experience these symptoms.
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    If you think you have acute bronchitis, you should call your doctor to be diagnosed and to rule out a more serious medical condition. You should also call your doctor if your symptoms (sore throat, wheezing, coughing, chest congestion, body aches) last more than two weeks and/or if you experience any of the following symptoms:
    • coughing or wheezing that worsens when you lie down or exercise
    • shortness of breath
    • a high fever
    • a cough that produces blood
    • a cough that causes a bad taste in your mouth (a possible sign of gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD)
    Acute bronchitis is an infection of the tubes that carry air into your lungs (the bronchial tubes), which causes those airways to swell and produce mucus, making it difficult to breathe normally. Acute bronchitis is often caused by a cold or other viral infection and usually resolves within two weeks. However, since the symptoms associated with acute bronchitis may also be symptoms of other conditions such as pneumonia, asthma, or GERD, you should see your doctor to make sure you don't need other medical treatment.
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    A thoracic surgeon is a medical doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating diseases of the chest. That treatment may include performing operations on the heart, lungs, esophagus and other organs within the chest. The conditions that a thoracic surgeon treat may include:
    • coronary artery disease
    • cancer of the lungs, esophagus or chest wall
    • heart and blood vessel abnormalities
    • diseases of the diaphragm
    • abnormalities of the heart that are present at birth
    • injuries to the structures in the chest
    • problems in the airways
    Thoracic surgeons typically complete a five-year surgical residency after graduating from medical school. They may then spend two or three years in a cardiothoracic residency program. Thoracic surgeons can then become board-certified by the American Board of Thoracic Surgery by sitting for both written and oral examinations.
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    A pulmonologist is a medical doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating diseases of the lungs, bronchial tubes and respiratory tract. A doctor may spend 10 years training to become a pulmonologist, according to the American College of Physicians, starting with seven or more years of medical school and postgraduate training to become board-certified in internal medicine, followed by two to three years of studying conditions specific to the respiratory system. Some doctors are pediatric pulmonologists who specialize in diagnosing and treating breathing and lung problems in children.

    Some of the many conditions that a pulmonologist may treat include:
    • asthma
    • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
    • sleep apnea
    • cystic fibrosis
    • pneumonia
    • lung cancer
    • tuberculosis
    • emphysema
    • chest infections
    • complications of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)
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    A Pulmonary Disease, answered on behalf of
    What Lifestyle Habits Have the Most Effects on Lungs?
    Lifestyle habits such as smoking affect the lungs the most. In this video, Ahmed El-Bershawi, MD, a pulmonologist at Riverside Community Hospital, adds that household pets like birds can affect your lungs as well. 
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    A Pulmonary Disease, answered on behalf of
    All coughs are not contagious. However, someone who has had a cough for less than a week may be contagious, particularly if the cough is caused by a virus. When the cough has gone on for more than a week or two, whatever infection was there has probably passed, and what’s left is just the inflammation.

    The most worrisome situation would be the chronic cough caused by tuberculosis (TB), where the patient is continually spewing germs out into the air. Fortunately, TB is not very common.
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    Decongestants work by opening up the nasal passages and reducing inflammation. Sometimes a decongestant will help with a cough. However, decongestants can increase blood pressure, so doctors are reluctant to recommend them for patients who have hypertension (high blood pressure).

    There are many decongestants on the market (Sudafed and Actifed, for example). Further, antihistamine medications that have a 'D' at the end of name, such as Allegra-D and Claritin-D, contain decongestants as well.
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    A Pulmonary Disease, answered on behalf of
    Coughing can be caused by many conditions, including the following:
    • cold
    • flu
    • postnasal drip
    • pneumonia
    • bronchitis
    • allergies
    • asthma
    • irritation from smoking
    • sinus conditions
    • acid reflux (GERD)
    • cancer
    • tuberculosis
    • aspiration (particularly in people who have had a stroke)
    Coughing is also a possible side effect of many medications.
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    Research has shown that the cause of death in an organ donor should not automatically be an exclusionary criterion for lung transplant consideration. Individual transplant centers evaluate donors on a case-by-case basis and assess the risk and make the best match of donor and recipient.

    Based on the study results, it appears that if centers wanted to expand their individual criteria for donation, they could successfully expand their donor pool. Questions around these types of donors or even marginal lungs can be assessed by ex-vivo perfusion (therapy applied to donor lungs outside of the body before transplant that improves organ quality and makes lungs safe for transplant). This should lead to an increase in the number of transplants overall.
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    Researchers assessed the association between lung donor cause of death and recipient survival, focusing on asphyxiation or drowning as the cause of death. 

    Out of 18,250 adult primary lung transplants, researchers studied the 309 cases that involved asphyxiation or drowning. They found that although the hospital stay was slightly longer (0.8 days) for recipients of lungs from asphyxiation or drowning deaths when compared with people who received lungs from all other causes of donor death, survival rates were the same, and there were no differences in treatment for rejection within the first year, post-transplant dialysis or post-transplant stroke.