Lung diseases are described broadly as disorders of the lungs, which can be caused by organic or inorganic causes. Organic causes refer to disorders or diseases of the lungs where the causative agents are microorganisms such as bacteria and the inorganic causes are non-living things such as smoke and dust.
Organic lung diseases range from bronchopneumonia and pneumonia to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) (chronic bronchiolitis and emphysema), tuberculosis, influenza, etc.
Inorganic lung diseases include pneumonitis from chemical substances, asthma, lung cancer, pulmonary edema, etc.
Lung diseases can be easily diagnosed, as human life is a factor of unconscious and spontaneous breathing. Any alteration to the latter would signal a problem, and the attention of your doctor should be called so as to evaluate it properly.
The presenting complaint can range from shortness of breath, labored breathing or wheezing, fever, cough, etc.
A detailed clinical history is to be obtained from the patient, and biodata such as age, race, location, and occupation of the patient are vital. The occupation, for example, could be a pointer to an unfavorable exposure that poses a causative risk factor for lung diseases. Family history, hygiene, social and environmental history (exposure to smoke, dust, or active and secondhand smoke), vaccine history, and past medical history of respiratory disease are important questions the physician will be looking out for. The duration of presenting complaints, onset, and pattern of symptoms are equally important. Interventions prior to the presentation would also be helpful. The triggers or relieving factors for the symptoms would be helpful, such as in asthma attacks.
Examination and assessment of the respiratory system involve the inspection of the respiratory pattern of the patient (respiratory rate, labored breathing, and chest shape), palpation of the lung zones, and auscultation using the stethoscope to determine lung sounds in the lung zones.
Investigations the physician would request will range from a chest radiograph, a microscope, the culture and sensitivity of sputum, a computed tomography (CT) scan, a tuberculin skin test, a CT scan guided lung biopsy, bronchoscopy, arterial blood gas tests, and spirometry.
The above clinical history, examinations, and investigations help the managing physician or pulmonologist arrive at a diagnosis.
Lung diseases can easily be detected from irregularities in the breathing pattern, and early diagnosis offers a better prognosis. Lung diseases can be of mild significance as well as severe, since they relate to the organs of respiration. It is therefore important to consult the physician promptly when these symptoms arise.
Prevention of lung diseases cannot be overemphasized, as the cost of prevention is much lower in most cases compared to treatments.
TREATMENT OF LUNG DISEASES
Treatment is dependent on identified causative agents rather than symptoms. Although relief of respiratory distress is vital, arriving at the probable cause of the symptoms is equally important and should be explored exhaustively through history and examinations.
Steroids and antibiotics are commonly used in the treatment of lung diseases and, in some cases of oncogenes, anti-cancer therapies such as chemotherapy, surgery, immunotherapy, and radiotherapy. Some lung diseases are not curable but can only be managed, such as lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; hence, compliance and adherence to treatment modalities should be followed for the latter.
Follow-up visits should be as frequent as the doctor prescribes, and this may vary as often as the disease condition requires.
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