A hospital visit for lung disease – an eye-opener

Login to Health October 25, 2017 Chest Diseases 1903 Views

Breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in again and breathe out. A natural pattern, a rhythm for most of us just as the recurring phenomenon of day and night or the cycle of seasons – spring, fall…

But for most women like Karen who suffer from lung disease, breathing is something to focus on, be acutely aware of what her lungs can’t handle – absorbing oxygen from the atmosphere and delivering it to the bloodstream for the rest of the body. Imagine air not filling up your lungs. Imagine not being able to breathe.

While normal people breathe 25,000 times just every single day, Karen and millions of sufferers like her need respiratory aids. There are several types of lung disease such as lung cancer, asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and all of these combined together make lung disease rank as the third highest cause of death in the US. Even chronic cough and the common cold fall under this killer category, but don’t let these statistics alarm you.

While lung disorders may be complex, the symptoms of some ailments like asthma, are easy to diagnose, comprehend and treat. For instance, an asthmatic may be susceptible to certain allergens in the air. It could be even a wide range of them from pollen to perfume or even cigarette smoke. Now when this asthmatic is in close contact with a smoker at a party or a conference, the cigarette smoke naturally acts as a trigger and causes the asthmatic’s pathways to narrow. Over a prolonged period, this kind of exposure would damage the airways and air sacs, culminating in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.

For Karen, it wasn’t an injury through an accident that affected a part of her breathing process. This is how she contacted pneumonia – The cilia or fine hair in the upper airways weren’t able to block all the pollutants she inhaled. Soon she developed an infection which further constricted the airways.

So what are the warning signs to watch out for?

  • Have you been coughing for over a month?
  • Do you feel short of breath without much exercise of little or no effort at all?
  • What about wheezing? Or persistent mucus that won’t recede even after a month
  • Does your chest pain a wee bit when you cough? And even ordinarily?

If your answer is yes to any of the above questions, then visit your doctor with medical reports, prescribed medicines and even those taken over the counter.

Spirometry and Bronchoscopy

Your Pulmonologist would need to obtain more facts through certain procedures, most common of which is the Spirometry.

A Spirometry, is a test usually recommended to assess how the lungs function. It shows accurately how much you inhale, how quickly you do and how much you exhale. A Spirometry when done periodically, also tells the doctor if the treatment is working properly or not.

Bronchoscopy is another procedure for lung problems. A tube with a camera called the flexible or rigid bronchoscope is inserted through the nose or mouth to figure out the lung problem. While it’s a safe procedure it may sometimes be accompanied by fever, bleeding or pneumonia. A very rare side effect is the pneumothorax which requires prompt medical attention.

Importance of Pulmonary Function Tests (PFTs)

There are various other Pulmonary Function Tests (PFTs) which indicate the functioning of the lungs. These tests also measure lung size.

A simple blood test can help save your life. The doctors, with just a pinprick (when the needle is inserted), takes arterial blood from your wrist, getting the complete blueprint of the gas prevalent in your blood.

There is also a painless test in which the doctors place probs on your finger or maybe your ear to gauge the oxygen level in your blood. This simple test is the pulse oximetry.

However, a note of caution:

Lung function testing affects certain surgical procedures related to the eye, brain, ear, abdomen, and thorax. Doctors, therefore, advise patients to have these tests done at hospitals with advanced technological equipment to handle any emergency, should it arise.

If you are showing symptoms related to lung diseases, then visit your nearest pulmonologist as soon as possible. 

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