One of the strongest, yet extremely vulnerable parts of the human body is the lung. Similar to the other organs of the body, the lungs are susceptible to disease and infection. In order to protect this essential organ, we must educate ourselves. Here is a quick guide to inflammation of the lung, a common ailment that if left untreated, could prove fatal.
Inflammation is the biological defense mechanism and response to foreign and harmful irritants, damaged cells and germs. The presence of inflammation indicates that the body is trying to expel foreign agents. While inflammation usually causes people to think the opposite, research has shown that without inflammation, infections and injuries would not heal, ultimately resulting in death. However, chronic inflammation can lead to serious diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and hay fever.
Called pleurisy by medical professionals, this common condition is better known as inflammation of the lungs. Generally, there are two types of inflammation: acute and chronic. The signs of acute inflammation are swelling, redness, pain (slight or intense), increased warmth in a localized area and sometimes loss of function. Chronic inflammation usually presents the same characteristics of acute inflammation, however, the symptoms of chronic inflammation are often delayed, but last for longer periods of time, and result in tissue destruction. If untreated or persistent, acute inflammation can evolve into chronic inflammation.
Since inflammation of the lungs can be caused by a wide variety of diseases and disorders, it is almost impossible to exclusively treat the inflammation. Doctors usually try to find the underlying cause of the inflammation and work to treat the disease or condition that is causing the problem. Although most airborne germs can not be avoided, it is recommended to protect the lungs by not smoking, avoiding toxic fumes and wearing appropriate clothing in harsh weather to avoid catching pneumonia or the flu. There are a wide variety of treatments for lung inflammation. Depending on the severity of the inflammation, medical professionals may recommend rest and aspirin, but often will prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs or painkillers.
Inflammation is often confused with infection. In actuality, lung inflammation is a symptom of a virus or bacteria present in the lungs. Although inflammation is often caused by an infection, it is the body’s protective response and its means of expelling the infection. However, if acute inflammation is recurring and becomes chronic, the lungs may become scarred. In these cases, inflammation is no longer protecting the body, but instead becomes a breeding ground for bacteria and viruses in the lungs. The diseases and conditions caused by the bacteria can lead to severe lung damage and possibly death.
Many diseases of the lungs that cause inflammation are often extremely difficult for physicians to diagnose. Due to the wide range of conditions and diseases that lead to or are caused by inflammation, diagnosis of specific lung diseases is usually delayed. For example, upon initial examination, severe lung conditions such as emphysema and pneumonia may often be confused with extremely treatable lung conditions such as asthma or bronchitis. Delay in diagnosis of chronic lung diseases are potentially fatal. If you experience chest pains or difficulty breathing, consult a medical provider immediately.