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.
1 AnswerPulmonary 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
- coughing, especially coughing up blood
- blue tint to nails and lips
1 AnswerIf 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)
1 AnswerA 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
1 AnswerA 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:
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- sleep apnea
- cystic fibrosis
- lung cancer
- chest infections
- complications of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS)