Lung diseases

Lung disease is present when the trachea, the bronchi, bronchioles (branches of the airways), the delicate air sacs (alveoli), the lung or pleura, or the blood vessels of the lungs are diseased. On this page, you can find out which lung diseases there are and how you can recognize them.

What lung diseases are there?

The lungs are the body’s breathing organ. Various diseases can affect them. These lung diseases have multiple causes. Here is an overview:

Cardiopulmonary Diseases

Occupational diseases

Chronic lung diseases

Autoimmune diseases of the lungs

Tumor diseases

Infectious diseases of the lungs

Some lung diseases arise because pathogenic germs such as bacteria, viruses, or fungi penetrate. The pathogens irritate the mucous membranes and sometimes cause severe inflammation. Those affected then suffer from symptoms such as cough with sputum, fever, and a general feeling of illness.

Common infectious diseases of the lungs include:

You should always have an infection of the lungs examined by a doctor. For example, in the worst case, pneumonia can be fatal in older people, people with chronic lung diseases, and people with a weakened immune system.

Lung infection

It’s one thing to have a cough that won’t go away or a fever that won’t go down. But a lung infection can leave you feeling pretty terrible, and you won’t want to hang around to find out just how sick it is. A lung infection happens when bacteria or a virus gets deep inside your airways, and your body’s immune system can’t fight it off. The disease may then spread, causing lung inflammation that makes breathing hard to breathe.

Bacteria, viruses, and co. can migrate into the lungs and inflame them – this can be dangerous. Read everything you need to know about pneumonia.

Whether it’s your first bout with bronchitis or you’ve dealt with it many times, you know the symptoms can be brutal. The hallmarks of this infection are coughing, wheezing, chest tightness, phlegm, and congestion, but don’t let that scare you or a loved one out of seeking treatment. While bronchitis is considered a common infection, it is more than a nuisance: it is an inflammatory condition that can lead to lifelong damage.

Acute bronchitis is mostly caused by viruses. Persistent cough is typical. Read more about symptoms and course!

Cardiopulmonary Diseases

Some heart diseases originate in the lungs. This includes, for example, cor pulmonale – the right ventricle is enlarged, the heart muscle is thickened because the resistance in the pulmonary vessels is increased, and the heart has to work harder.

Doctors call this increased blood pressure in the pulmonary vessels pulmonary hypertension. For example, it is the result of COPD or a pulmonary embolism. Cardiopulmonary diseases are particularly noticeable in the beginning through relatively non-specific symptoms such as reduced physical resilience, exhaustion, and shortness of breath under stress.

A pulmonary embolism (PE) is when a blood clot breaks loose from where it normally resides, usually in your leg or pelvis, and travels to your lungs. This can cause a blockage in your lungs, making it difficult to breathe. The blockage may be caused if the clot is coming from a vein, or the clot will likely break loose from where it usually resides. When this happens, it is called PE.

In a pulmonary embolism, a pulmonary artery becomes blocked—causing sudden shortness of breath and chest pain. Read more about it!

If you’ve ever experienced shortness of breath, you may have experienced cor pulmonale, a condition in which the heart cannot pump blood efficiently, leading to fluid buildup in the lungs. Several conditions can cause cor pulmonale, including heart failure, coronary heart disease, and high blood pressure. However, the most common cause of cor pulmonale is cardiomyopathy, which occurs when the heart muscle becomes damaged or weakened.

In cor pulmonale, the right ventricle expands significantly. The reason for this lies in the lungs. Read more about it here!

Occupational lung diseases

Some lung diseases result from inhaled pollutants, fumes, vapors, or gases. People are primarily exposed to these environmental influences at specific workplaces.

Alveolitis is an inflammation of the small air sacs in the lungs, where gas exchange between blood and air takes place. Read all about it.

Pneumoconiosis is caused by inhaling dust. It is deposited in the respiratory tract. The result is coughing and shortness of breath. Please read all about it!

Chronic lung diseases

Some respiratory diseases are chronic. This means that the symptoms persist over a long period without improving. Some chronic lung diseases also gradually worsen. Common chronic lung diseases include:

Bronchiectasis is a chronic lung disease that affects the airways of the lungs, causing them to become progressively more narrow. The airways can then become obstructed, making breathing difficult and leading to coughing up mucus. Bronchiectasis is similar to asthma, but the inflammation that causes Bronchiectasis is not reversible.

Bronchiectasis is a widening of the bronchi. Read more about the prognosis, symptoms, and treatment of bronchiectasis.

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that commonly causes people to snore loudly, stop breathing for short periods, and wake up frequently throughout the night. The condition affects about 18 million Americans, according to the National Institutes of Health, but it’s a condition that’s often misunderstood. Here’s how to tell if you might be suffering from sleep apnea—and what you can do about it.

Autoimmune diseases of the lungs

When the body’s immune system attacks the lung tissue, doctors speak of an autoimmune disease of the lungs. This causes inflammation, and the lung structure changes pathologically.

Wegener’s granulomatosis (or Wegener’s disease) is a rare disorder that causes inflammation in the blood vessels. The inflammation leads to tissue and cells being damaged. The damaged cells can be in your lungs, nose, sinuses, kidneys, skin, blood vessels, and gastrointestinal system. Wegener’s disease can affect anyone, but it is most common in people older than 40. Read more!

The skin is a common target for autoimmune disorders, and lupus is one of them. Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in a person’s skin, joints, kidneys, lungs, and other body systems. Lupus can cause pain, fatigue, swelling, rashes, and other symptoms.

In lupus erythematosus, the immune system mistakenly sees the body’s own cells, the lungs, as foreign. What does that mean?

Sarcoidosis is a chronic inflammatory disease that can affect almost any organ in the body. It causes symptoms like fatigue, difficulty breathing, and lymph node swelling. Sarcoidosis is most common in people over 30 and is more prevalent in people with a family history of the disease.

Malignancies of the lungs

In the lungs – as in any other body region – cells can degenerate. Eventually, uncontrolled cell division can result in lung cancer. Cancer can also affect the pleura and lungs.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death in the U.S., and it’s in the same category as breast and colon cancer. More than 2 million American adults are living with lung cancer. Most people don’t know it, but the disease often develops slowly—and in advanced stages—so symptoms often don’t appear until the disease is too far progressive.

Lung cancer is one of the most common cancers. Read everything you need to know about risk factors, symptoms, treatment, and prognosis!

Mesothelioma is a rare type of lung cancer that mainly affects people exposed to asbestos. As the second most common cancer linked to asbestos exposure, mesothelioma accounts for about 3 percent of all lung cancer cases. Despite its rareness, mesothelioma is deadly. The disease has a five-year survival rate of less than 10 percent. The leading environmental risk factor for mesothelioma is asbestos exposure. Most cases arise due to workplace exposure to asbestos (which is rare), but some have been linked to secondhand exposure to asbestos in another person’s home or clothing.

Mesothelioma is usually caused by asbestos and can hardly be cured. Read more about mesothelioma!

Causes and risk factors

The causes of lung diseases are diverse. In acute illnesses, such as cold or acute bronchitis, viruses and bacteria are the triggers, more rarely fungi or parasites. Other lung diseases, such as cystic fibrosis, are already anchored in the genome. Some are also caused by environmental pollutants, such as smoking or particulate matter.

Infection with pathogens

The causative agents of lung diseases are often transmitted by droplet infection: an infected person emits many droplets containing the virus when speaking, sneezing, coughing, breathing, or laughing. If they enter another person’s airways, they can become infected.

Infection via the most delicate droplets in the air – so-called aerosols  – also plays a role in respiratory diseases – such as in the transmission of coronavirus. The virus-containing micro-droplets get into the air and can infect those who breathe them in.

In the case of a smear infection, the pathogens get on objects – for example, door handles, computer keyboards, or handles on public transport. From there, they are transferred via the hands to the mucous membranes of other people.

The spread of infectious diseases poses one of the most significant challenges. There are more than 300 known pathogens that cause infectious diseases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). People may be exposed to contagious diseases through direct contact with an infected person, animal, or surface or through environments contaminated with germs or products.

Infectious diseases are diseases caused by pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, or fungi. Read here about how infections are transmitted and how you can protect yourself from infection.

Pollutants in the air

In addition, breathing in dust and harmful gases can cause lung disease. Anyone who regularly inhales higher doses of toxic gases, vapors, or fine dust damages their lungs. 

The pollutants can occur in your own four walls, for example, black mold or asbestos in the building fabric. It is even more likely that these pollutants occur in the workplace. Anyone who works with chemicals should therefore protect themselves adequately. The same applies to dusty work: If the fine dust gets into the lungs, it can cause severe damage in the long term. The pollutants include:

  • molds
  • Asbestos
  • Silicone
  • Particulate matter (e.g. from quartz, lead, copper, silver, granite, Beryllium)
  • Fumes from paint and varnish
  • irritant gases

Inhaling cigarette smoke (passive smoking) can also damage the lungs and cause lung disease.

Genetic predisposition

Some lung diseases are hereditary. This includes, for example, cystic fibrosis. The tendency to allergies and allergic asthma can also be inherited. If, for example, one parent is asthmatic, the child’s risk of developing the disease is three times higher.

Autoimmune reaction

Your defense system can also attack the lung tissue. The lung tissue remodels as a result of the inflammation. More connective tissue accumulates, and the lungs become scarred. Doctors then speak of pulmonary fibrosis

Pulmonary fibrosis can also develop without the exact cause being known. Doctors then speak of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. In addition, pulmonary fibrosis can result from inhaled pollutants, infections, medication, or heart disease.

Other risk factors for lung diseases

Obesity is a risk factor for lung diseases. Due to the increased body mass, the heart has to work harder to supply the organs with sufficient oxygen. In addition, obese people are more likely to develop sleep apnea.

A significant risk factor for lung disease is smoking. It damages the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract. This is how inflammation occurs again and again, which can become chronic. Pathogens then have an easier time here.

This also applies to passive smoking. Those regularly exposed to cigarette smoke also have an increased risk of lung diseases. The risk of respiratory infections and long-term effects also increases for unborn children if the mother (passively) smokes.

What does smoking do to the body and mind? What are the risks? And how do you get rid of nicotine addiction? Get information here!

When are lung diseases fatal?

Lung diseases can be severe and even fatal in some people. Infections are the biggest problem, especially chronic lung diseases. The main reasons for the severe course of lung infection are:

  • Weakness of the immune system (e.g., due to another illness or immunosuppressive therapy)
  • Older age
  • Chronic pre-existing conditions (especially if they affect the heart or lungs)
  • Lack of protection
  • The missing or wrong treatment

The cause of death in lung patients is often respiratory insufficiency – that is, the difficulty in breathing. Many patients also develop acute lung failure (ARDS) during the disease, which usually ends fatally.

In specific diseases, gastric juice or stomach contents efficiently run back into the trachea or lungs. This causes inflammation. Doctors then speak of aspiration pneumonia. It occurs, for example, in neurological diseases with swallowing disorders and can also be fatal.

Lung diseases: symptoms

Cough, shortness of breath, shortness of breath: these are common signs of lung disease. The symptoms depend on the underlying condition. The following symptoms usually indicate a lung problem:

  • cough (with or without sputum)
  • coughing up blood
  • Shortness of breath  (shortness of breath, dyspnea), often with shortness of breath and rapid breathing (tachypnea)
  • Altered or abnormal breathing sounds (e.g., whistling, humming, panting)

Lung diseases often alter breathing. They become noticeable through a change in the breathing pattern, i.e., the ratio of inhalation to exhalation or the noises made when breathing. The following changes in breathing can occur:

  • slow breathing (bradypnea)
  • Rapid breathing (tachypnea)
  • The varying depth of breath and spacing of puffs (Cheyne-Stokes breathing)
  • Breathing pauses after deep breaths (biot breathing)
  • Deep and stressed breathing (Kussmaul breathing)

In some cases, a lung disease also manifests itself with the following symptoms:

Chronic lung diseases can sometimes be recognized from the outside – through typical physical changes. These occur mainly when the disease is left untreated or is very advanced. This includes:

  • Change/thickening of the last phalanges ( drumstick fingers )
  • “Spongy” changes in the structure of the nail bed
  • Rounded and outwardly curved nails (watch glass nails)
  • Barrel thorax (significantly enlarged chest)
  • The left and right sides of the chest move unequally
  • Coach seat (when sitting, the patients support their arms on their knees; use the auxiliary respiratory muscles)

In the case of lung disease, the following rather unspecific symptoms can also occur:

If you notice these symptoms in yourself or someone close to you, you should seek medical advice. He will examine you or the person concerned and classify the complaints. In most cases, an easily treatable infection is behind it. However, you should never take lung problems lightly.

Diagnosis of lung diseases

If there is a suspicion of lung disease, the doctor will first question the patient in detail ( anamnesis ). He asks him questions about his symptoms and possible previous illnesses such as cardiovascular problems, existing allergies, or diseases of his family members. The job you do also plays a role in lung diseases.

The doctor will also ask questions about lifestyle. For example, smoking and being overweight significantly increase the risk of lung diseases such as COPD or sleep apnea.

If the patient suffers from a cough with sputum, the doctor is also interested in his appearance. He pays attention to:

  • Crowd
  • colour
  • blood admixtures
  • Consistency (e.g. foamy, chewy)

With most infections or bronchiectasis, those affected complain of significantly more sputum than usual. The color of the sputum changes, especially with bacterial (super)infections – the mucus is then yellowish-greenish in color. If blood is found in the cough secretion, this indicates a pulmonary embolism, tuberculosis, or a malignant tumor.

Physical examination

The physical examination follows the questioning. The doctor pays attention to possible signs of lung disease such as blue lips or changes in the fingers (drumstick fingers).

An important point is listening to the lungs with a stethoscope. Doctors speak of the so-called auscultation. In doing so, he pays attention to the character and volume of the breathing noises, any background noises that may be present, and the relationship between inhalation and exhalation. Altered breath sounds include:

  • Wet rales (e.g. in pneumonia)
  • Hum and wheeze (whistling noise) during inhalation and exhalation (e.g., COPD, asthma)
  • Stridor, a high-pitched breath sound (e.g., when one has inhaled a foreign object)
  • Crunching/creaking rubbing noises (e.g., in the case of a dry inflammation of the lining of the lungs, called pleuritis sicca)
  • Decreased or absent breath sounds (e.g., in pleural effusion or a collapsed lung, called a pneumothorax )
  • Crackling (sideropenia, especially in pulmonary fibrosis)

In addition, doctors sometimes check the propagation of speech:

  • Bronchophonia: The patient whispers the number “66” while the doctor listens – once on the left, once on the right. Fluid-filled lung tissue, such as that found in pneumonia, conducts the voice better, allowing the doctor to hear the number more clearly.
  • Egophonia: The patient pronounces an “I,” but the doctor hears an “A.”

The focus is also on the heart: by listening to the heart, the doctor can detect heart valve defects, for example. In addition, he can sometimes hear whether the blood pressure in the pulmonary circulation is too high.

When scanning the chest (palpation), the doctor pays attention to areas that are tender to pressure, for example. He also tests the so-called voice fremitus. He has the patient say the number “99” while placing his hands on the chest to the left and right of the spine. The vibrations that this creates in the chest are usually equilateral. If they differ on the left and right, this indicates a lung disease.

This is followed by tapping the chest (percussion). The doctor can use the knocking noises to assess the lung borders, among other things. In addition, the knocking sound of individual lung diseases differs. In the case of water retention or pneumonia, it sounds relatively high and dull. If the lungs are overinflated, for example, as part of COPD, the knocking sound is rather deep, loud, and long-lasting.

If the first examination confirms the suspicion of a lung problem, the family doctor will refer the patient to a specialist. In the case of lung diseases, this is usually a pneumologist.

Lung function test

In addition to the physical examination, several diagnostic tests are available to the doctor. The focus is on the lung function test. The following procedures allow for a reliable assessment of lung function:

If you’ve ever had a lung function test at a doctor’s office, your doctor may have used a Spirometer to determine the volume of air your lungs can hold. Spirometry is a test used to measure the function of the respiratory system, or how well the lungs and breathing muscles work. This measurement is done through a test called spirometry, which checks how well your lungs and breathing muscles work with a set of maneuvers called the vitals. During the vitals, your doctor might ask you to take a deep breath in, hold your breath, and exhale. This test is non-invasive and painless. Spirometry can be performed in a doctor’s or outpatient medical office.
Spirometry is a routine test of lung function. Read all about the reasons and procedure of the investigation

Since 1995, spiroergometry has been used to measure lung function. In spiroergometry, the patient breathes into a mouthpiece, and the device measures the amount of air inhaled and exhaled and the breathing rate. Spiroergometry calculates the flow rate as the volume inhaled divided by the inhalation time.

Spiroergometry tests the resilience of the lungs and cardiovascular system. Read here how the investigation works and what the findings reveal.

Blood values

Specific blood values ​​also provide information about lung health. Elevated levels of inflammation such as white blood cells or C-reactive protein indicate an infection. In some cases, the doctor takes arterial or capillary blood from the patient’s earlobe and uses it to determine, among other things, the oxygen content in the blood. The process is also called blood gas analysis.

Imaging procedures

If the suspicion of lung disease is confirmed, the doctor treating you will arrange for further examinations. In an ultrasound examination, he quickly recognizes when the fluid has accumulated in the chest. Condensations and accumulations of water in the lungs can also sometimes be visualized using ultrasound.

In many cases, the doctor will order an X-ray of the lungs. Then he recognizes:

  • Fluid in the chest (pleural effusion) 
  • Congested pulmonary vessels
  • Fluid retention in the lungs (infiltrates, such as in pneumonia)
  • Collapsed lung parts/wings (e.g. pneumothorax)
  • Airless sections of the lungs ( atelectasis )
  • Conspicuous densities, round lesions (e.g., lung cancer, tuberculosis)

Another imaging test used to diagnose lung disease is a chest computed tomography scan (chest CT or chest CT). CT exposes the patient to more radiation than an X-ray. The doctor often also administers contrast media so that the individual areas can be better distinguished.

In scintigraphy, doctors use radioactive substances to visualize the blood vessels (pulmonary perfusion scintigraphy) and lung ventilation (ventilation scintigraphy). The examination is used, for example, to clarify a pulmonary embolism – especially in patients who are not allowed to receive a contrast agent.

Ultrasound is a group of techniques that uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images. The sound waves can pass through skin, bone, and other tissues, without damaging any of those structures. Ultrasound scans aren’t just for pregnant women; they can be used to diagnose various conditions, including appendicitis, kidney stones, liver disease, and thyroid disorders.

The doctor can examine various body regions and organs with an ultrasound test. Read all about the function and significance of the method!

No doubt about it, the X-ray chest is very valuable. It can make the difference between life and death. An X-ray chest can also diagnose other ailments, such as lung cancer. The X-ray chest is a medical imaging procedure that uses low-dose radiation to create images of the inside of the body. The X-ray chest gives physicians detailed information about a person’s chest and lungs and can help them determine if a person’s lungs are clear enough for surgery.

A chest X-ray is a radiological examination of the chest and its organs. Read more about it here!

Computerized axial tomography, or CT, is a diagnostic imaging procedure that uses x-rays and computer technology to produce cross-sectional, or axial, images (usually multiple images), both horizontally and vertically, of the internal structures of a patient. The CT shows detailed views of bones, muscles, fat, and organs and allows physicians to diagnose conditions such as head injuries, abdominal issues, and heart disease. This non-invasive exam is painless, safe, and does not require an intravenous (IV) dye.

Computed tomography depicts body structures very precisely using X-rays. Read what the images reveal!

We’ve all heard the term (and maybe even seen it in action) before—but what exactly is scintigraphy? And how does it work? Scintigraphy is a medical imaging procedure used to take pictures of internal tissues and organs using radioactive material that highlights essential areas.

Scintigraphy is a nuclear medicine procedure that is used, for example, in heart and lung patients. Read more!

Endoscopic examinations

During a reflection, the doctor inserts a flexible tube with a tiny camera ( endoscope ) into the patient’s airway. This gives him a precise insight into the bronchi and lungs. If the doctor notices any noticeable changes, he can also use special forceps to take a tissue sample (biopsy). If lung disease is suspected, these endoscopic procedures are used:

  • Bronchoscopy (Lung Mirroring)
  • Thoracoscopy (thoracic reflection)
  • Biopsy

Puncture

If there is fluid in the pleural space – i.e., the distance between the lungs and the pleura – the doctor can drain fluid during a pleural puncture and then examine it. The puncture is also often used to treat patients with severe shortness of breath: if the fluid is drained, those affected quickly feel relief and can breathe more freely. 

Bronchoscopy is a procedure that examines the lungs, passages, and airways. A bronchoscope is a long, thin, flexible tube with a tiny camera at its tip inserted into the mouth or nose, down the throat, and into the bronchi, or air passages. Bronchoscopy may be used to assist with the diagnosis of diseases of the lung and airways or to perform procedures such as biopsies or removing foreign bodies.

In bronchoscopy, a rigid or flexible probe is inserted into the trachea and bronchi. Read how the investigation works here!

If you’ve ever wondered how doctors can look inside your body, look no further than a thoracoscopy. Though one of the most common surgical procedures, a thoracoscopy is a minimally invasive surgery that allows doctors to look at the insides of your organs. During a thoracoscopy, the doctor inserts a small tube (called a cannula) through one or more incisions in the chest area. The cannula has a camera and light attached, which doctors use to view and diagnose problems. Read more about thoracoscopy!

Treatment of lung diseases

Correct diagnosis of lung disease is the basis for its treatment. Respiratory therapy can also be helpful for all lung patients. They learn exercises and techniques that promote conscious body awareness and make breathing easier.

Medication

Various medications are available to treat lung diseases. According to their primary effect, they can be divided into several substance groups, including:

  • bronchodilator drugs
  • anti-inflammatory agents
  • Agents against pathogens (anti-infectives such as antibiotics, antivirals, or antifungals)

Bronchodilator medications help make breathing easier. They are usually used as a spray. There are fast-acting ones, for example, against an acute asthma attack, and long-acting ones to reduce the rate of attacks and improve breathing over the long term. Anti-inflammatory agents are intended to suppress chronic inflammation, for example, in COPD or asthma. Antibiotics, on the other hand, are used for bacterial infections.

Home remedies such as inhaling steam, possibly with herbal additives, can help treat lung diseases.

Note:

Home remedies have their limits. If the symptoms persist over a more extended period, do not get better, or even worsen, you should always consult a doctor.

Oxygen

Oxygen therapy is necessary if the lungs no longer supply the body with sufficient oxygen due to an illness.

If sleep apnea stops breathing during sleep, the patient is given a machine to help them breathe at night. With the help of a slight overpressure, the device keeps the airways open. With this so-called CPAP therapy, the machine does not do the breathing work but only supports it.

The human body needs oxygen to survive. The lungs get oxygen into our blood, which carries oxygen to our organs and muscles. Breathing air, however, isn’t always enough to provide our bodies with all the oxygen we need. In certain respiratory disorders, our bodies do not use oxygen efficiently, get too little oxygen, or have trouble getting rid of carbon dioxide. When these conditions occur, our bodies can get short of oxygen, causing symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, or chest pain. Doctors sometimes prescribe supplemental oxygen to treat these breathing disorders.

With oxygen therapy, the organs can be supplied with oxygen in lung diseases such as COPD or pulmonary emphysema. Learn more!

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is a treatment for sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a severe condition that interrupts breathing while you sleep. It affects about 18 million Americans, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. It can occur in a few different ways, but obstructive sleep apnea or OSA is the most common form. During OSA, the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses, and airway passages become blocked, often briefly.

CPAP is a mechanical method of assisting breathing. This creates increased pressure in the airways. Read all about it!

Invasive procedures and ventilation

If there is fluid in the pleural space, i.e., around the lungs, a puncture usually helps the patient. However, if there is too much water in the lung tissue, it cannot be punctured. Instead, doctors prescribe diuretics. If this pulmonary edema causes severe shortness of breath, ventilation may also be necessary.

In principle, ventilation is necessary when there is an insufficient exchange of vital oxygen and carbon dioxide waste product. Doctors make a fundamental distinction between:

  • Non-invasive ventilation, e.g., using a mask
  • Invasive ventilation using a tube in the trachea (tube, intubation)

If these measures are insufficient, the oxygen supply to the blood occurs via a particular device outside the body. Doctors speak of so-called extracorporeal membrane oxygenation or extracorporeal lung support (only to a limited extent for oxygenation).

If the lungs have collapsed, for example, due to an accident, doctors put in what is known as a chest drain. It helps the lungs to develop freely again.

Once the lung tissue is destroyed, it cannot be restored. Therefore, many patients with advanced lung disease are dependent on a lung transplant when all other therapy attempts have been exhausted.

If left untreated, many lung diseases can be fatal. You should, therefore, always follow the doctor’s therapy recommendations.

The pleura is the tissue that covers the lungs, and Pleural puncture, or pleurocentesis, is a procedure used to drain fluid from the pleural cavity. The pleura is fragile and thin, and punctures can easily be made. The procedure is performed by inserting a needle into the space between the lungs and the chest wall. The needle is attached to a syringe, and fluid is drained from the space between the lungs. Learn more!

Ventilation assists or replaces the patient’s breathing. Find out all about it here!

Chest drainage uses a tube to suck air, blood, or other fluids out of the chest. Read all about the treatment!

You might not think you have lung problems, but that doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. Lung diseases are the leading cause of premature death in the United States, and people with lung disease are twice as likely to die. A lung transplant is the only possible solution for some, though, and is life-saving for others.

A lung transplant is the transplanting of a donor’s lung. When is it necessary? How does it work? Read more about it!

Prevention

You can reduce the risk of some lung diseases through your behavior. Maintain a healthy lifestyle. This also applies to people already suffering from lung disease – because it is never too late to do something for your health. Lifestyle often has an impact on the course of therapy.

  • Eat a balanced diet: antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids benefit lung health.
  • Quit smoking and avoid cigarette smoke.
  • Drink enough: At least 1.5 liters a day. This ensures that the mucus in the airways remains liquid and can be easily coughed up.
  • Keep moving and keep fit. Daily walks are a first step in the right direction.
  • Declare war on severe obesity. If a few pounds too much don’t matter much, and if they even help through times of crisis, the risk of severe secondary diseases increases significantly, especially in the case of obesity (BMI > 30).
  • Check your vaccination status regularly. The Robert Koch Institute recommends several vaccinations that prevent lung diseases, among other things. You can find out who should be vaccinated and when in the article Vaccination calendar.

If you suffer from asthma or allergies, you should also ensure that you consistently avoid possible triggers for attacks (e.g., specific pollen or fumes).

Apart from that, you should take part in the medically recommended check-ups for the early detection of diseases.

Obesity, diabetes or lung diseases can be detected early or prevented with the right check-ups. That’s how it’s done!

Lung diseases from A to Z

Scientific standards:

This text corresponds to the requirements of specialist medical literature, medical guidelines, and current studies and has been checked by medical professionals.