The official blog of the Lung Institute.
It’s a simple question, so here’s a simple answer.
As it stands today, there are more than 20 different varieties of chronic lung disease, affecting millions of individuals across the world. As one of the most common medical conditions in the world, the disease is primarily caused from smoking, infections of the lungs and genetic make-up. The lungs are among some of the most important organs within your body, and because of that, the effects of chronic lung disease on your ongoing health and quality of life can be downright devastating. Lowering your energy levels, affecting your ability to breathe, reducing your mobility and ultimately shortening your lifespan, chronic lung disease—particularly chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is now the third leading cause of death in the United States.
Though there are treatments available to address the symptoms of chronic lung disease and respiratory diseases such as cellular therapy, medications , inhalers and the use of supplemental oxygen therapy, in addressing your disease, it’s critically important to first understand it.
With your health in mind, the Lung Institute is here to break down Respiratory Diseases: What Are Chronic Lung Diseases?
So, What Are Chronic Lung Diseases?
Simply put, chronic lung diseases are diseases of the lungs that have developed as a result of poor respiratory or environmental conditions. These conditions can be cigarette smoke that enter the lungs (as a result of smoking or second-hand smoke), poor working conditions (such as construction or mining) or through exposure to areas of high airborne particulates (living near the desert or areas of high pollution).
These irritants in the smoke or air enter the lungs and gradually cause issues within them that inhibit their healthy functioning. As the lungs continue to be irritated, their airways inflame as an immune response to fight off the foreign objects. This inflammation leads to the narrowing and constriction of the lungs’ air pathways, making breathing more difficult. As the air moves from the mouth or nostrils into the lungs, the largest difficulty of obstructive lung disease is the process of expelling the CO2 back out. This back up results in higher levels of CO2 within the body that can ultimately be harmful to the heart and lungs.
However, when researching the respiratory diseases and the primary types of chronic lung disease, it’s best to start with the most important…
COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is an obstructive and progressive lung disease that ranges from mild to severe. Primarily characterized by its obstruction of airflow into the lungs, this ultimately creates a sensation of breathlessness within the patient, making breathing all the more difficult. Although COPD is the leading form of chronic lung disease, it is actually a disease based on two primary conditions: emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
As stated above, emphysema is one of the two primary conditions that make up COPD. In fact, the term “emphysema” describes the process of the gradual breakdown of the lungs’ air sacs. It’s this destruction within the lungs that makes breathing more difficult. As these destroyed air sacs are responsible for bringing oxygen to the bloodstream, their destruction can mean less oxygen being released into the bloodstream. This ultimately means less oxygen being delivered through the body, increased breathlessness and greater fatigue.
As the second primary component of COPD, chronic bronchitis is the physiological condition that describes the symptoms of excessive coughing because of mucus build-up within the airways. This condition occurs when the trachea or windpipe becomes inflamed along with the lungs large and small bronchi. The source of this inflammation—typically irritation or infection—sparks the production of mucus along the airway’s lining, creating a painful and “wet” cough among those with the disease.
Interstitial Lung Disease
Interstitial lung disease is an umbrella term that covers more than 100 different types of pulmonary disorders that deal with the absorption of oxygen into the lungs. As the symptom expression of these subsidiary respiratory diseases can range widely, what unites these ranges of conditions is their symptoms: difficulty breathing and moving from place to place, as well as chronic shortness of breath. Almost specific to interstitial lung diseases is the evidence of scarring within the lungs as a result of a uniformly dry, and pestering cough.
Perhaps the most notable and common form of interstitial lung disease, pulmonary fibrosis is a disease that primarily exhibits itself through the scarring of the lungs. As this scarring—and subsequently hardening process—causes the lungs’ passageways to thicken and harden, this can lead to the restriction of your lung’s ability to pass oxygen through its walls. As this oxygen fails to reach the bloodstream, pulmonary fibrosis sufferers often experience shortness of breath regardless of periods of prolonged rest.
Bronchiectasis is a condition of the lungs where damage to the airways causes them to widen and become scarred. As this occurs, your airways slowly lose their ability to clear out mucus. Due to the mucus build-up , your airways become blocked, opening them up to bacteria-build up and viral infection. These lung infections can be potentially dangerous to seniors and those with other relevant health comorbidities.
An occupational lung disease by nature, the word “pneumoconiosis” comes from the Greek language and means “dusty lungs.” As this is typically a result of inhaling mineral dust (such as those in mining or the construction industries), this dust leads to scarring within the lungs which causes the hardening of the lungs’ airways and increases inner inflammation. These combined conditions result in restricted breathing and greater bouts of breathlessness and respiratory fatigue.
Looking Towards What’s Next
Respiratory diseases such as chronic lung disease aren’t illnesses that are easy to live with. It’s draining, frustrating and downright disheartening when feeling as if your quality of life is slowly slipping away from you.
However, change may be possible through treatment.
With a few behavioral changes, it’s possible to greatly affect the pronouncement of symptoms within those with COPD, emphysema and pulmonary fibrosis. However, when lifestyle changes fail to improve your quality of life in the way that you may expect, it may be time to consider cellular therapy. Rather than addressing the symptoms of lung disease, cellular therapy may directly affect disease progression and may improve quality of life.
For more information on cellular therapy and what it could mean for your life moving forward, contact us today or call us at (800) 729-3065. Our patient coordinators will walk you through our available treatment options and talk through your current health and medical history.
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