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.

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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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    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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    Aspirin-exacerbated respiratory disease (AERD) is treated by appropriate management of the individual's asthma and nasal polyps. This is the initial and most important treatment of AERD. This treatment may include surgical excision of the nasal polyps.

    It is very important to avoid aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). There are some medications, such as montelukast (Singulair), that can be given to help reduce the response to NSAIDs. If, after these measures, there is still a significant concern, an individual should consult with an allergist about undergoing aspirin desensitization. 
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    Aspirin-exacerbated respiratory disease (AERD) is typically diagnosed when a medical practitioner identifies the three major components of the disease: asthma, nasal polyps and a history of an allergic-type reaction to aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. If all three of these are not present and AERD is still suspected, a test called an aspirin challenge can be performed. This is when the person is exposed to aspirin in a controlled environment to assess for symptoms. This test should only be performed by a medical professional. 
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    A Allergy & Immunology, answered on behalf of
    What is aspirin-exacerbated respiratory disease (AERD)?
    Aspirin-exacerbated respiratory disease (AERD) is a syndrome caused by three symptoms coming together. In this video, Tanya Laidlaw, MD, of Brigham and Women's Hospital, describes these symptoms and explains how common AERD is for adults with asthma.
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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.