Many infections can afflict the human body, but a set of them target the lungs. These conditions range from the manageable such as asthma to more severe chronic diseases including COPD and cancer. Approximately 235 million people suffer from asthma, and more than 200 million people have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD.
Infections of the lungs are divided into three main categories: airway diseases, lung tissue diseases, and circulation-related conditions. Some overlap and fit into more than one category.
Have you ever seen someone use an inhaler, or feel out of breath during strenuous activity? A common respiratory condition known as asthma could be to blame.
This chronic affliction causes patients to develop inflammation in the airways that can cause difficulty breathing. Dry coughing, a tightness in the chest, and shortness of breath are common symptoms. Everything from pollution to allergies can trigger these types of reactions, but many patients are able to manage their asthma through the use of anti-inflammatory meds and a rescue inhaler for dire circumstances of difficulty breathing.
Chronic obstructive bronchitis and emphysema are both categorized as COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. COPD is the third-highest cause of death in the U.S. Bronchial tubes are responsible for getting air to the lungs. When the bronchial tubes are inflamed, bronchitis can occur. These types of bronchial conditions make it cumbersome to clear the lungs of bacteria, dust, and irritants. Inability to do so leaves certain people at risk for serious lung infections.
Increased shortness of breath, more amounts of mucus, fever, sore throat, and unusual sinus drainage are common warning signs of an infection. Most people know that cigarette smoke is detrimental to health; however, many might not be aware of its correlation to COPD. Quitting smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke is a useful tip for protecting your lungs from this type of problem. Keeping your home environment clean and free of allergens – such as mold, mildew, and dust – is also advised.
In some cases, people are born with pulmonary infections or develop them early in life – one example is cystic fibrosis. This progressive genetic disease causes people to develop perpetual lung infections, greatly reducing their ability to breathe over time. In addition to targeting the lungs and causing them extensive damage, CF affects the pancreas as mucus buildup blocks the release of digestive enzymes.
Ultimately, this can prevent those with the disease from absorbing vital nutrients from the foods they consume. Incessant coughing, wheezing, inability to gain weight, and frequent lung infections (such as bronchitis or pneumonia) are some symptoms of CF.
Expert Lung Care in Illinois
Northwest Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine specializes in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of a broad spectrum of breathing disorders from chronic cough to chest pains.
Our physicians and nurse practitioners pride themselves on providing expert personalized care to each patient. For more information, call our office at (815) 477-7350, or request an appointment using our form online.