Common Lung Diseases and Their Prevention
posted by Internal Medicine | October 17, 2016
Lung diseases can significantly reduce the quality of life as many lung problems cause shortness of breath and disability. Some lung problems can be deadly. The World Health Organization sums it up perfectly when they say, “People with chronic lung diseases fight for air while doing simple tasks.” Fortunately, you can reduce your risk for developing certain types of lung diseases. Early detection and treatment can help you live more comfortably with the symptoms of respiratory diseases.
About one in 12 people in the United States have asthma, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), up from one in 14 in 2001.
Asthma involves swelling and inflammation of the lung’s airways, which makes it hard to move air in and out of the lungs. Inflammation can also make your lungs more sensitive to “triggers” that cause the interior of the airways to swell. This further reduces air movement in the lungs, and muscles that wrap around the airways can tighten to cause an asthma attack. Triggers can include an upper respiratory infection, the weather or things in the environment such as dust, pet dander, smoke and chemicals.
Medical scientists are still investigating the root causes of asthma, but researchers think environmental and genetic factors interact to influence the development of this lung disease in some people. Asthma usually develops early in childhood.
Common signs of asthma usually include wheezing, tightness in the chest, shortness of breath and coughing. Doctors diagnose asthma by evaluating a patient’s symptoms, gathering a complete health history, conducting a physical exam and assessing results from spirometry and other lung tests.
Doctors prescribe various medications to control asthma. These medications can relax airways or reduce swelling and inflammation there. Patients can reduce asthma symptoms by identifying and avoiding asthma triggers, and by taking medications as directed.
Doctors have diagnosed more than 11 million people in the United States with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to the American Lung Association, but 24 million may have the lung disease. COPD is the third leading cause of death in the United States. While there is no cure for this serious and disabling long-term disease, early detection and management through medications, oxygen therapy and pulmonary rehabilitation help patients live more comfortably with their disease for many years. COPD is an umbrella term that includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
Emphysema involves gradual damage to the delicate tissue of air sacs inside the lungs. Tissue damage eventually destroys the air sacs, also known as alveoli, to make breathing difficult. Chronic bronchitis often accompanies emphysema.
In chronic bronchitis, the bronchial tubes leading into the lungs become inflamed and produce more mucus than usual. Inflammation and mucus leads to coughing and difficulty breathing.
Cigarette smoking is the primary cause of emphysema and chronic bronchitis, so the best way to prevent COPD is to avoid smoking cigarettes and reduce exposure to secondhand smoke.
Doctors diagnose COPD through a thorough evaluation, spirometry and other tests. Treatment includes medications, surgery and other treatments.
Revere Health offers patients throughout Utah County access to one of the most experienced team of internists in the state. Revere Health’s internists are trained to diagnose, treat and manage a wide variety of lung related issues. They strive to give exceptional care and provide the treatment you need to feel your best.
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.