The lungs are the primary organs of our respiratory system. They play an integral role in taking in oxygen from the air into the body and releasing carbon dioxide from the body. Apart from facilitating gas exchange, the lungs protect against dust and microbes from entering the body through mucus production, cilia movement, and coughing.
However, various disorders and infections impact the lungs, causing breathing problems and respiratory failure. Lung diseases that impact the airflow in and out of the lungs are called airway diseases. Similarly, circulation diseases affect the ability of the lungs to deliver oxygen to other parts of the body.
This article highlights six lung diseases you should be aware of while suggesting some preventive measures to avoid them. So, without further ado, let’s begin.
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that affects the thin lining of the lungs, known as the pleura. Its primary symptoms include pain in the chest, shortness of breath, a dry and painful cough, and the formation of unusual lumps of tissue under the skin on your chest.
It’s usually associated with asbestos entering the body through inhalation of air that contains asbestos fibers. Since people often get exposed to asbestos from industrial workplaces, they can even file a lawsuit in their state to get financial compensation for physical and mental trauma. For instance, if you’re a Californian citizen diagnosed with mesothelioma, you could potentially file a claim with the help of a California mesothelioma lawyer. This could help you get compensation to pay for the treatment of the disease.
The treatment of mesothelioma depends upon the stage and location of your cancer. However, surgery and chemotherapy are the most common treatments for mesothelioma. You can opt for other treatment options like targeted therapy and immunotherapy if the surgery and chemotherapy aren’t effective.
- Pulmonary Fibrosis
Pulmonary fibrosis is an intestinal lung disease that causes scarring of the lungs. It results in the thickening of lung tissues, making it difficult to absorb oxygen into the bloodstream. There are various types of pulmonary fibrosis, which include Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis (HP) and Rheumatoid Arthritis Interstitial Lung Disease (RA-ILD). However, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is the most common one without any known causes.
In some cases, the cause of pulmonary fibrosis could be hazardous chemicals or toxins. Other causes include factors like genetics and certain medications. Its primary symptoms include dry cough, shortness of breath, and gradual weight loss.
Pulmonary fibrosis has no cure, but one can prevent further scarring of the lungs by opting for a lung transplant, using specific medication, and undergoing oxygen therapy or pulmonary rehabilitation. These measures can slow down the progression of the disease.
Bronchiectasis, as the name suggests, refers to the thinning of the lungs’ airways called bronchi. In this condition, bronchi become thickened and damaged, making it hard to clear mucus out of the lungs, thus causing infections. Consequently, persistent coughing with mucus and pus is a common symptom. Other symptoms include wheezing, coughing up blood, and regular colds. Bronchiectasis is more common in women and older people than in men and middle-aged adults.
Bronchiectasis is caused by airway damage resulting from infections or other inflammatory disorders like inflammatory bowel disease, chronic pulmonary aspiration, and COPD. However, in more than 40% of cases of bronchiectasis, the exact cause is unknown.
Bronchiectasis, just like pulmonary fibrosis, is impossible to cure completely but can be controlled by treating the symptoms. Antibiotics, macrolides, expectorant and mucolytics, and physical therapy PEP devices can help kill bacteria, relieve infected mucus, and decrease inflammation.
Asthma is a chronic lung disease that affects the airways in the lungs. The airways may produce extra mucus, blocking the space for the exchange of gases through the lungs. Thus, it leads to difficulty in breathing. According to data, in the US, more than 25 million people suffer from asthma, which includes more than 4.6 million children. Asthma patients often suffer from tightness in the chest, wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath.
Genetic factors, pollution, toxins, smoking, and obesity can all contribute to the development of asthma. Similarly, indoor allergens (such as dust mites, mold, and pet dander), outdoor allergens (such as pollens and mold), and emotional stress can result in asthma attacks.
Asthma is an incurable disease, but its symptoms can be controlled by prescribed medications and avoiding exposure to asthma triggers.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a chronic condition that results in chronic bronchitis and emphysema, making it hard to breathe. Its symptoms vary from person to person. Usually, at the onset of the COPD, no symptoms appear. But as the disease worsens, people with COPD start experiencing coughs with sputum (mucus or phlegm) and shortness of breath.
The swallowing and thickening of airways, the inability of airways to stretch and shrink back, and damage to walls between air sacs can lead to less airflow in and out of your airways, resulting in breathing-related problems. The major causes of COPD are often smoking and air pollution.
The symptoms of COPD can be relieved by medications, quitting smoking, pulmonary rehabilitation, and supplemental oxygen. Other treatment options include NIV, EBV therapy, and surgery.
- Pulmonary Hypertension
Pulmonary hypertension is a condition that affects the blood vessels in the lungs. It develops when blood pressure is abnormally high. This blood pressure in pulmonary arteries can reduce blood flow through the lungs, thus decreasing oxygen levels in the blood.
This condition can either be inherited or acquired. Genetic defects of the heart, blood clots in the lungs, HIV infection, connective tissue disease, and heart failure can all contribute to pulmonary hypertension.
Although a complete cure for pulmonary hypertension is impossible, medications, soluble guanylate cyclase (sGC) stimulators, and blood thinners can relieve the symptoms. If the symptoms aren’t alleviated even partially, your healthcare provider may opt for an atrial septostomy and lung or heart-lung transplant.
Tips To Prevent Lung Diseases:
If you’re looking for ways to prevent these lung diseases, the following tips can be helpful:
- Avoid Tobacco: Tobacco smoking is a leading cause of lung diseases, including lung cancer, COPD, and emphysema. Thus, avoiding it will minimize the risk of developing these diseases.
- Protect yourself from Environmental Toxins: Minimize exposure to pollutants, chemicals, and asbestos. Use protective equipment if you work in environments with airborne toxins.
- Practice Good Hygiene: Wash your hands frequently, especially during cold and flu seasons, to reduce the risk of respiratory infections.
- Avoid Allergens: Identify and reduce contact with allergens that may trigger respiratory symptoms. It can significantly improve asthma symptoms and allergy-related conditions.
- Proper Vaccination: Get vaccines for respiratory disorders like COVID-19, Influenza, pneumonia, Pertussis (Whooping Cough), Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), and Tuberculosis.
Lung diseases can lead to various respiratory problems, affecting one’s quality of life. Most lung diseases like asthma, COPD, pulmonary hypertension, and pulmonary fibrosis are incurable. That’s why it’s necessary to take preventive measures to avoid these diseases altogether. Avoiding smoking, protecting yourself against allergens and environmental toxins, practicing good hygiene, and getting vaccinated can all reduce the risk of getting these lung diseases.