Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a lung disease that progresses slowly over time, making it difficult to breathe. In people who have COPD, the airways, or tubes that carry air from the nose and mouth into the lungs, are partially blocked – either because of thickening and mucus, or because the airways are floppy and collapse, or both. By 2019, COPD was the third leading cause of death in the United States, killing more than 120,000 Americans each year; that is one death every four minutes. More than 12 million Americans are currently diagnosed with COPD, including 1.6 million people in California , and it is thought that an additional 12 million people have the disease and are unaware of it . In the early stages of the disease the signs may be very subtle and many people might think they have gained weight, are out of shape, or are just getting older. Many people do not seek prompt medical attention for COPD because early symptoms are so subtle. COPD is also a leading cause of disability. When severe, it interferes with a person’s ability to do everyday things like take a shower or tie their shoes.COPD refers to a classification of diseases that obstructs air ways, making it very difficult to breathe. COPD consists of two primary diseases: emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Often they occur together, but can occur separately as well. Chronic asthma is also considered part of the COPD classification, and often individuals with bronchitis and emphysema may have chronic asthma.
The main cause of COPD is smoking. Different types of air pollution also contribute to COPD, including indoor, outdoor, chemical fumes, and dust. Alpha Antitrypsin (AAT) Deficiency can also cause COPD.
• Shortness of breath• Wheezing• Excess mucus• Chronic cough• Lack of energy (fatigue)• Blueness of the lips or/and fingertips• Mood or memory problems
There is no known cure for COPD, but it is manageable if diagnosed early. If you smoke, it is very important to quit smoking. Medications for COPD include inhaled bronchodilators, which relax the muscles around the airways to make breathing easier, and inhaled steroids to help reduce airway inflammation. Other treatments for COPD may include vaccines, pulmonary rehabilitation (rehab), oxygen therapy, and surgery.
National Heart, Lung, and Blood InstituteLearn More, Breathe Better Campaign (NHLBI)NIH Senior Health (National Institutes of Health)Centers for Disease Control and PreventionU.S. Department of Health and Human ServicesCOPD Pocket Consultant Guide Online CommunityMesothelioma GuideCOPD Foundation Mayo ClinicWorld Health Organization
Acute lower respiratory infections are infections that affect the lung alveoli, like pneumonia, and infections that affect the airways, like acute bronchitis, bronchiolitis, influenza and whooping cough. Acute lower respiratory infections are one of the leading causes of illness and deaths in children and adults.
Acute Bronchitis & Bronchiolitis is a short-term inflammation of the bronchial tubes, which are the airways that carry air to the lungs. Most cases of acute bronchitis get better within several days, but the cough can last for several weeks after the infection is gone. Most cases of acute bronchitis and bronchiolitis are related to virus like the flu and other cases are caused by bacteria.Influenza ("the flu") is a contagious respiratory infection caused by viruses. Every year millions of Americans get sick with the flu. Sometimes it causes mild illness, but it can also be serious or even deadly, especially for people over 65, newborn babies and people with underlying conditions. There are different influenza viruses that can cause infections.Pneumonia is an infection in one or both of the lungs which causes the air sacs of the lungs to fill up with fluid or pus. It can range from mild to severe, depending on what caused the infection, your age and your overall health. The most common cause of pneumonia in adults is called by a bacterium called Streptococcus pneumonia. Different viruses can also cause pneumonia and influenza.
Interstitial lung disease in children (ChILD) is a group of different conditions that affect various parts of the lungs. ChILD can affect the airways (breathing tubes), alveoli (air sacs), and the tissues surrounding the alveoli. Adults and children can have the same kind of interstitial lung disease, but some forms of ChILD are unique to children and some forms of adult interstitial lung disease that do not affect children. ChILD can be diagnosed in infants, children, and teens.
It is difficult to determine a definitive cause. However, some types of chILD are caused by genetic or environmental factors, including:• Air pollution• Exposure to irritants• Bronchiolitis Obliterans• Exposure to secondhand smoke• Connective tissue associated lung disease• Hypersensitivity pneumonia• Capillaritis• SarcoidosisSymptoms may vary due to the type of condition and the progression of the disease, and can include: • Fast breathing• Chronic cough• Wheezing• Coughing up blood• Low oxygen levels• Shortness of breath
ChILD is difficult to detect and diagnose. Because of this, your child should be seen by a pediatric pulmonologist. There is no single test to diagnose ChILD, since each type of ChILD is different. The pediatric pulmonologist will order tests based on the child’s symptoms, which may include: • Pulmonary function tests• Chest X-rays• CT of the Chest• Blood tests• Lung biopsyTreatmentDue to the rarity of this illness, research has been limited. It is recommended to meet the pediatric pulmonologist to determine the best course of action. Treatment may also vary due to the severity. Treatment options include medication, oxygen therapy, and lung transplant.
Lung cancer is a condition where malignant cells develop and spread out throughout the lung tissue. Lung cancer is known as the leading cause of death for both men and women. There are two types of lung cancers: non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer. Non-small cell lung cancer is the most common type of lung cancer and progresses more slowly. Small cell lung cancer grows faster and is more common in men than women.
Contributing factors for lung cancer include family history, exposure to air pollution, previous contact radiation therapy, and exposure to first and secondhand smoke.
Reports suggest that lung cancer does not display any signs or symptoms in the earliest stages but becomes evident when it is advancing. Signs and symptoms may include:• Coughing• Trouble breathing• A constant state of fatigue• Blood in sputum (mucus coughed up from blood)• Chest pain
There is no defined way to prevent lung cancer. However, there are things you can do to live a healthier quality of life, including not smoking; If you do smoke, quitting reduces your chances of getting lung cancer. Avoid secondhand smoke, eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly.
If a person is experiencing multiple symptoms, it is recommended to consult with your health care provider. They may suggest taking a couple of tests, including a physical exam, lab testing, imaging tests, or a biopsy.
Treatments ultimately depend on the severity and type of lung cancer. Possible treatments include: • Chemotherapy• Radiation therapy• Immunotherapy• Surgery
Lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM) is a rare disease that affects the lung, kidneys, and lymphatic system. What Causes Lymphangioleiomyomatosis?LAM is a condition caused by a genetic mutation in the Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC) gene that primarily affects women between the ages of 20 to 40. The genetic mutation grows abnormal cells that spread through the bloodstream into the lungs. Over time, the cells create holes in the lungs tissue that weaken the breathing and the ability to take up oxygen. There are two types of LAM diseases, sporadic and associated with tuberous sclerosis complex. Both sporadic LAM and associated tuberous sclerosis complex LAM occur for unknown reasons. What Are The Symptoms?The irregular growth in the lungs may cause different symptoms. Depending on the severity of the disease can cause the following symptoms (Cleveland clinic, 2020):• Chest pain• Cough, sometimes with phlegm or blood streaks• Fatigue• Pleural effusions (a fluid that accumulates in the chest cavity)• Pneumothorax (collapsed lung)• Shortness of breath (which can get worse over time)• WheezingHow Is Lymphangioleiomyomatosis Diagnosed?LAM diagnosis presents to be difficult because it has similar signs and symptoms as other lung diseases. A pulmonologist will assess which diagnostic procedure will be best for you. Methods may include:• Chest X-ray• Computed Tomography (CT)• Blood Testing of a blood protein called vascular endothelial growth factor-D• Lung BiopsyWhat To Do If I Think I May Have Lymphangioleiomyomatosis?There is no current cure for LAM; however, there are effective treatments to help stabilize the disease and prevent it from progressing. A drug called sirolimus is utilized in patients that have LAM. Sirolimus helps stabilize lung function and improve the quality of life in a person suffering from LAM. Doctors may also prescribe oxygen therapy for people with LAM. Lung transplantation is an option for some people with advanced disease who do not respond to treatment with sirolimus. It is essential to monitor and follow your treatment plan provided by your physician. Make sure you schedule a follow-up care visit, and lastly, have a support group. Living with LAM disease is not a comfortable journey. However, surrounding yourself with people who support and love you with make the difference.
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