Pulmonology services

Pulmonology Diseases, Disorders and Syndromes

25/03/2022

Pulmonology diseases/disorders/syndromes refer to any lung diseases that can affect normal functioning of the lungs. There are several different types of lung diseases which impact your lungs in different ways. Some of them can affect your ability to breathe and some of them can affect the ability of your lungs to uptake oxygen and release carbon dioxide.

The three main types of lung diseases are: airway diseases, which affect airways of the lungs that transport oxygen in and out of the lungs and generally cause narrowing of airways. Lung tissue diseases, damage the structure of lung tissues, making it difficult for the lungs to take in oxygen and lung circulation diseases impact blood vessels in the lungs. Majority of the lung diseases are a combination of these. Some of them may occur due to infections, and others may be associated with environmental factors. Let us take a look at some common pulmonology diseases and how they affect our body.

Common lung disorders

Asthma

Asthma is a lung disease which causes narrowing and swelling of airways, leading to breathing difficulties, cough and wheezing. It can be caused due to various genetic and environmental factors.

Triggering factors of asthma

  • Pollen, dust, pet dander
  • Cold weather
  • Air pollution
  • Certain medications - NSAID’s, Aspirin, Beta blockers.
  • Physical activity
  • Stress
  • Preservatives in some foods and beverages.

Signs and symptoms of asthma

  • Pain or tightness in the chest
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing (a whistling sound while breathing out)
  • Sleeping difficulties due to cough and shortness of breath
  • Coughing or wheezing which becomes worse with a cold or flu.

Treatment of asthma involves medications which reduce swelling and open up your airways. Identifying and avoiding triggers is also part of asthma treatment.

Bronchitis

Bronchitis is an infection occurring in the lower respiratory tract that affects the air tubes of your lungs (bronchial tubes). These tubes carry air in and out of your lungs. It is of two types: acute bronchitis which develops suddenly and lasts for about 10 days, chronic bronchitis, chronic bronchitis gradually develops over a period of time, which is more serious and life threatening.

Signs and symptoms

  • Cough
  • Mucus production which may be white, clear, yellowish-gray or green in color
  • Low-grade fever
  • Stuffy, runny nose
  • Tiredness
  • Wheezing
  • Chest congestion.

Treatment of bronchitis includes medications to treat your infection and relieve cough, along with breathing exercise programs to improve breathing.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

COPD is long-term lung disease which causes obstruction of airflow from the lungs, leading to breathing difficulties. It is mainly caused due to excessive smoking and exposure to harmful gases.

Signs and symptoms

  • Shortness of breath during daily activities
  • Respiratory infections occurring frequently
  • Chronic cough and wheezing
  • Cough along with mucus production which may be yellow, clear, white or greenish in color
  • Production of large amount of mucus (phlegm or sputum)
  • Loss of energy
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • A feeling of tightness in the chest
  • Bluish color of lips and fingernails.

Treatment of COPD includes several types of inhaled Bronchodilator medications, supplemental oxygen therapy, breathing exercises and surgery is considered in people who do not respond to conservative treatment with medications.

Emphysema

Emphysema is a lung disease in which air sacs (alveoli) of the lungs are damaged. It belongs to a group of diseases known as chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD). Over time, the walls of these air sacs become weak and reduce the amount of oxygen reaching your blood. Smoking is the highest risk factor associated with emphysema.

Symptoms

In most cases, emphysema may not present with any signs and symptoms in earlier stages. Symptoms may gradually develop as the disease progresses. These include:

  • Cough
  • Increased mucus production
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Fatigue
  • Avoidance of activities which cause shortness of breath
  • Eventually, shortness of breath even at rest.

Although emphysema cannot be completely cured, treatments are focused on relieving symptoms and slowing down disease progression. Treatment includes medications, lifestyle changes, dietary changes, breathing exercise, oxygen therapy and surgery if needed.

Lung cancer

Lung cancer occurs due to abnormalities in the lung cells, leading to uncontrollable growth of cancer cells, destroying the lungs. Lung cancer most commonly occurs due to long-term smoking and exposure to dangerous chemicals. However, it can also occur in people who are not exposed to these.

Symptoms

Symptoms of lung cancer typically develop in advanced stages and these include:

  • A newly developed cough that does not subside
  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing up blood
  • Coughing up rust colored phlegm or sputum
  • Chest pain worsening with deep breathing, coughing or laughing
  • Wheezing
  • Weakness or tiredness
  • Lung infections that do not subside or keep recurring.
  • Hoarseness of voice
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bone pain
  • Headache.

Treatment for lung cancer may include surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and supportive care. The type of treatment depends on your stage of lung cancer and overall health condition.

Dr Suresh S
M.B.B.S, M.D (Respiratory Medicine)
Consultant & Interventional Pulmonologist
Department of Pulmonary Critical Care and Lung Transplantation

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