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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    A Allergy & Immunology, answered on behalf of
    What does an aspirin-exacerbated respiratory disease (AERD) center do?
    A team of allergists and otolaryngology specialists work together at Brigham and Women's aspirin-exacerbated respiratory disease (AERD) center. Watch Tanya Laidlaw, MD, describe the services offered at her AERD center. 
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    A Allergy & Immunology, answered on behalf of
    What research is there on aspirin-exacerbated respiratory disease (AERD)?
    Two ongoing clinical trials at Brigham and Women's Hospital are on aspirin-exacerbated respiratory disease (AERD). In this video, Tanya Laidlaw, MD, describes the research on antiplatelet therapies and dietary control to improve treatments.
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    Decongestants do not work well to get rid of a cough. Decongestants are more typically used to relieve a stuffy nose.
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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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    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 Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease), answered on behalf of
    Lung disorders that can cause chest pain include:
    • Pulmonary embolism. This cause of chest pain occurs when a blood clot becomes lodged in a lung (pulmonary) artery, blocking blood flow to lung tissue.
    • Pleurisy. This is when the membrane that covers the lungs becomes inflamed. Pleurisy can cause chest pain that's made worse with inhaling or coughing.
    • Collapsed lung. A collapsed lung occurs when air leaks into the space between the lung and the ribs. The chest pain associated with a collapsed lung typically begins suddenly and can last for hours.
    • Pulmonary hypertension. High blood pressure in the arteries carrying blood to the lungs (pulmonary hypertension) also can produce chest pain.
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    People receiving lungs from donors whose cause of death was asphyxiation or drowning have similar outcomes and long-term survival as those receiving lungs from traditional donors. For most people with end-stage lung disease, transplant offers the only hope for survival; however, there remains a critical organ shortage, especially for people on the lung transplant list. Increasing the potential donor pool would help reduce the number of people who die while on the waiting list and help expand this lifesaving treatment to those who need it.
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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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    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 Allergy & Immunology, answered on behalf of
    How is aspirin-exacerbated respiratory disease (AERD) treated?
    Aspirin desensitization can help those with aspirin-exacerbated respiratory disease (AERD) by introducing increasing doses of medication over time. In this video, Tanya Laidlaw, MD, of Brigham and Women's Hospital, explains how treatment works.