When we talk about chronic lung disease, I guess your mind sticks to lung cancer alone. But do you know that there are different types of this disease? Asthma, pulmonary hypertension, cystic fibrosis, bronchiectasis, chronic Pneumonia, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and interstitial lung disease are all types of lung disease. These diseases pose more dangers to your airways, may damage your lung tissues or even disrupt blood movement in and out of your lungs.
In 2020, 152,657 deaths were recorded, all relating to chronic lower respiratory disease, including asthma in the U.S alone, with over 3million deaths recorded worldwide in 2017. Does that mean there’s no cure for this disease with all these deaths? Well, various treatments are sure gonna help. Below are the most common types of chronic lung diseases, their symptoms, causes, risk factors, and possible treatments.
What Are The Major Types Of Chronic Lung Diseases?
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the airways, with multiple mediators and cell types interfering with normal airflow. This inflammation results in recurrent episodes of cough, wheeze, and shortness of breath. While the exact mechanisms responsible for these interactive events are still unclear, the inflammatory processes that cause asthma are consistent across distinct phenotypes.
When affected by this condition, your airway becomes narrow and swells with the production of extra mucus. The effects of Asthma in the system varies from person to person. It might be not more than a little nuisance to some people while posing as a life-threatening condition to others. Though this condition can’t be cured, the symptoms can always be put in check.
What Are The Symptoms Of Asthma?
As the effects of this disease vary from person to person, so also does its symptoms. You might experience its symptoms occasionally, while others may have its symptoms frequently. However, the signs and symptoms of asthma include
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling a bit tight in the chest region
Asthma symptoms tend to be worse at night or during exercise and can be triggered by many factors.
What Causes Of Asthma?
The primary causes of asthma are unknown, but research suggests it may be due to genetic or environmental factors. However, the major triggers of asthma include;
- Allergens like dust
- Cigarette smoke
- Cold air
- Animal dander
- Physical exercises
- Dietary insufficiency in vitamin C and E and also omega-3 fatty acids.
- Consumption of sulphite containing foods or even preservatives.
What are The Possible Treatments For Asthma?
Currently, there isn’t a permanent cure for asthma. But this condition can be managed. The symptoms and asthma attacks can be managed through regular treatments. Always consult your doctors when you notice any sign of an asthma attack, and also try to;
- Identify and stay away from its triggers
- Learn how to properly use your inhalers.
- Stick to prescribed medications
- Always keep your rate of breathing in check
- Remember to always carry your inhalers anywhere you’re going to provide fast and immediate relief from an asthma attack.
2. Pulmonary Hypertension
Pulmonary hypertension occurs when the tiny blood vessels in the lungs become narrow and hard to pump. As a result, the right side of the heart has to work harder to pump blood into the lungs, which can cause the heart to fail. It can also lead to bleeding in the lungs and coughing up blood.
What Are The Symptoms of Pulmonary Hypertension?
The basic symptoms of pulmonary hypertension include;
- Severe chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Swelling at your ankles
What Causes Pulmonary Hypertension?
The primary cause of pulmonary hypertension in congenital heart defects.
What Are The Possible Treatments for Pulmonary Hypertension?
Though pulmonary hypertension cannot be cured, treatments can help here as they’ll lower the effects of the disease to a minimal level. Some notable treatments include the use of blood thinners, blood vessel dilators and even diuretics.
Pulmonary hypertension can cause shortness of breath, which can be limiting. If left untreated, the condition may lead to organ failure and death. Fortunately, there are several treatments for this disease. You can make lifestyle changes to decrease symptoms and take medication to treat the condition. Organ transplantation can improve your quality of life, but it is not appropriate for everyone. Furthermore, organ transplantation can cause serious complications and shorten your lifespan.
3. Cystic Fibrosis
Cystic Fibrosis is an inherited genetic disorder whereby the lungs and digestive system get blocked and clogged with mucus. This disease changes the mucus makeup in the body completely, producing thick, sticky, and excessive mucus rather than being slippery and watery. People with cystic fibrosis may also develop nasal polyps – benign tumours made of inflammable tissues, leading to nasal congestion and difficulty breathing through the nose.
What are The Symptoms of Cystic Fibrosis?
Common symptoms of cystic fibrosis can be noticed in infancy. They include;
- severe coughs
- shortness of breath
- chest colds
- coughing out blood or mucus
- salty sweat ( an extra salty which is abnormal)
- Sinus infections.
Aside from the lungs, Cystic fibrosis can affect the liver, sex organs, intestines, pancreas and sinuses.
What Causes Cystic Fibrosis?
Mutation in the cystic fibrosis trans-membrane Conductance (CFTR) gene is the main cause of cystic fibrosis.
What are The Possible Treatments For Cystic Fibrosis?
While there’s no known cure for cystic fibrosis, treatments available will alleviate your symptoms and slow disease progression. These include antibiotics for lung infections, enzymes to digest fat, and vitamins and minerals. However, these treatments aren’t complete without regular monitoring by a doctor. While there’s no cure for CF, the goal of treatment is to reduce mucus, prevent infection, and prevent blockages in the intestines.
Bronchiectasis is a respiratory condition that can affect both adults and children. It is a chronic lung infection characterized by thicker walls of the bronchi. The bronchi are major airways of the lungs, and when affected, it loses their ability to remove mucus, giving more allowance for bacteria growth which causes further damage. This disease is mostly caused by cystic fibrosis in young people, and other infections in the airways, like those caused by tuberculosis.
What Are The Symptoms Of Bronchiectasis?
- Persistent cough accompanied by sputum.
- Severe chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Weight loss
- Unnecessary fatigue
- Respiratory infections
What Causes Bronchiectasis?
Bronchiectasis may occur due to an infection or medical condition related to the lungs. The notable risk factors of this disease include;
- Cystic fibrosis
- Lung damage
How Can I Treat Bronchiectasis?
There are several treatments for this condition. In most cases, conservative therapy can control the symptoms, though more aggressive treatment can be necessary in severe cases. One common treatment is oxygen therapy, which involves wearing special masks that contain concentrated oxygen. The goal of this therapy is to minimize shortness of breath and improve the patient’s quality of life. This therapy is usually done for between ten and fifteen hours a day.
Also, a doctor’s focus on treating bronchopulmonary disease is vital for preventing the progression of the condition. In addition to proper medical treatment, a patient should undergo routine follow-up examinations at least once every one to six months, depending on the severity of the disease. These follow-ups should include general sputum analysis and a bacteriological examination of the sputum to determine the activity of the inflammation in the bronchi. Your doctor may also perform a pulmonary function test, which determines whether or not you have severe impairment in lung function.
5. Chronic Pneumonia
Pneumonia is a lung disease caused by an infection of the air sacs in either one or both lungs. The air sacs tend to be inflamed and may be occupied with fluid. This affects oxygen flow and may provide a suitable habitat for microorganisms to grow and survive. Almost everyone is susceptible to Pneumonia, but it is highly notable in those whose lungs are already weakened and vulnerable due to;
- Cigarettes smoking
- Weakened immune system
- Other diseases
What Are The Symptoms Of Pneumonia?
Notable symptoms of Pneumonia include;
- Fast breathing
- Cough accompanied by mucus
- Unnecessary fatigue
- Loss of appetite
- Severe body pain
- Vomiting and feeling of Nausea
- Shortness of breath
What Causes Pneumonia?
Pneumonia is a severe infection caused primarily by bacteria or viruses. This infection spreads via the inhalation of airborne droplets by coughing or sneezing. However, its got some risk factors. They include;
- Other lung diseases like asthma or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
- Weakened Immune system
How Can I treat Pneumonia?
If you have a cold, you might be wondering how to treat Pneumonia. Mild forms of the disease are easily treatable at home, but if your symptoms are severe and you can’t tolerate medications, you should see your doctor. You will be prescribed antibiotics and advised to stay home as much as possible. Until you are completely recovered, you should avoid close contact with anyone with Pneumonia. You may need hospital treatment for Pneumonia. You may also need a ventilator to help you breathe.
The crucial step is to see your doctor, who will likely refer you to an infectious disease specialist or a pulmonologist. You should also make an appointment with your primary care physician if you suspect you have the infection. Once diagnosed with Pneumonia, the doctor will likely take a chest X-ray to rule out any other complications. Chest X-rays can take months to return to normal, so be sure to keep your appointment. If your condition worsens after treatment, your doctor may recommend alternate treatment.
For the various types of lung diseases given in this article, cure isn’t available for some, and the only way out here is by practicing major preventive measures. If you’re suffering from any of these conditions, always remember that you’re not alone. Stand strong and don’t give up without a fight. Lung diseases can only weigh you down when you don’t live a healthy lifestyle and practice prevention.