Pulmonology

Pulmonology

The respiratory system plays a vital role, including facilitating inhalation and exhalation. It also aids the absorption of oxygen from the air to enable the organs to functions properly. Therefore, any health conditions affecting any part of the respiratory system can alter the normal functionality. This could result in severe breathing complications and even death if not treated sooner. 

Fortunately, pulmonology was initially initiated to help patients with various respiratory tract conditions. This field also handles patients of all ages battling with either acute or chronic pulmonology disorder. 

 

What is Pulmonology?

Pulmonology refers to the medical field that is mainly concerned with the study of the respiratory system. It also focuses on the health state of an individual and the health conditions affecting the respiratory system. 

On the other hand, pulmonologists are medical experts who handle respiratory system conditions. They also specialize in diagnosing, treating, and managing all kinds of respiratory illnesses in young and old patients. 

 

What is the Respiratory System?

The respiratory system is made up of a network of organs and tissues that facilitate and coordinate breathing. It’s mainly categorized into the lower respiratory system and the upper respiratory system. 

The upper respiratory system includes the mouth, throat, nose, larynx, trachea, bronchioles, bronchi, and alveoli. On the other hand, the lower respiratory consists of the lungs, blood vessels, air paths, respiratory muscles, and bronchial tubes. 

 

Respiratory System Disorders 

Many conditions affect the respiratory system from time to time. Some of these conditions are minor and treatable using simple forms of medications. However, others are severe and can result in intense breathing difficulties or even death if not addressed early. 

The main types of pulmonology diseases that pulmonologists handle are divided into categories such as;

  • Structural respiratory conditions 
  • Infectious diseases 
  • Inflammatory diseases
  • Autoimmune conditions
  • Neoplastic (conditions associated with the tumor)

 

Generally, some of the common respiratory system conditions include;

Asthma: This is a chronic health condition that causes inflammation and narrows down the air paths, making it difficult to breathe. 

Cystic fibrosis: Respiratory disease that arises due to changes in the genes. This influences the accumulation of sticky mucus in the lungs and its walls. 

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): This is a chronic inflammatory lung condition that causes obstructions of the airflow towards the lungs. 

Emphysema: This is a lung condition that leads to breathing difficulties and damages the lung’s air sacs. 

Lung cancer: This type of cancer begins in the lungs and can spread to other breathing organs over time. 

Interstitial lung disease: This is a scarring and inflammatory lung condition that stiffens the lung tissues and causes breathing difficulties. 

Pulmonary hypertension: This is a respiratory system condition that arises due to increased blood pressure in the lung arteries. 

Obstructive sleep apnea: This condition leads to frequent pauses while breathing; it mainly occurs during the night. 

Bronchiectasis: This condition causes damages on the air paths, making them wide, flabby, and scarred. 

Tuberculosis: This is a chronic bacterial infection that mostly affects the lungs and can spread from one person to another. 

Bronchitis: This occurs when the bronchial tubes' linings that transports air to and from the lungs gets inflamed. It causes coughing and mucus secretion and can also lead to infections. 

Pneumonia: This is an infectious disease that inflames the alveoli (air sacs) in the lungs and can be filled with pus. 

 

The Prevalent Causes of the Respiratory System Disorders 

Different factors typically cause respiratory tract conditions. Medical reports indicate that the most common causes of pulmonology disorders are;

  • Poor or low immune system functioning 
  • Extreme climatic conditions 
  • Harmful and intolerable air pollution 
  • Existence of viral, bacterial, and fungal infection in the body
  • Congenital disabilities where the lungs fail to fully develop before birth
  • Too much exposure to factors such as smoke and certain toxic materials 

 

Signs and Symptoms of Pulmonology Conditions

The respiratory signs and symptoms vary from one person to another, depending on the condition and the affected breathing organs. However, these common signs and symptoms may indicate a pulmonology condition;

  • Breathing difficulties associated with wheezing and shortness of breath
  • Chest pain or tightness and uneasiness around the chest region 
  • Continuous coughing associated with the production of mucus
  • Rapid breathing or irregular heart rhythm 
  • Enlargement of the lymph nodes 
  • Throat ache caused by inflammation and soreness that can cause voice changes 
  • Blood that comes with a cough
  • High fever and chills 

 

Diagnosis of Pulmonology Conditions 

Pulmonologists can conduct several examinations and tests to diagnose and monitor respiratory system disorders. Proper and accurate diagnosis also enables them to address and treat the disease effectively. This, in the long run, translates into a successful recovery. 

Some of these diagnostic tests and procedures include; 

  • Imaging Tests 

Imaging tests enable the pulmonologists to view and examine chest and lung structures. It helps determine if there is any structural irregularity that might be causing specific respiratory symptoms. The types of imaging tests used for diagnostic and examination purposes include; 

X-rays: Pulmonologists use this imaging test to take pictures of the lungs and chest. It also enables them to monitor the lungs' health state while examining for any infections, including pneumonia and lung masses. 

Ultrasound: This test involves the use of sound waves. It produces clear pictures of the structure within the chest, lungs, and the pleural space. Pleural space is the region between the chest wall and the lungs. 

CT scans: Pulmonologists utilize CT scans to extract clear and more detailed x-ray images of the lungs and the chest. It also makes it easy to detect any sign of respiratory disorders like lung cancer, emphysema, and pleural effusion. The CT scan results are then used to plan for the next steps appropriately. 

 

  • Pulmonary Function Tests 

A pulmonary function test is used to check and measure various aspects of the respiratory system health state. These aspects include the lung volume, lung inflammation, and absorption of oxygen. 

The final results of the pulmonary function tests enable the pulmonologists to diagnose respiratory disorders and diseases accurately. It also allows them to track the impacts of the currently prescribed medication. 

The commonly utilized types of pulmonary tests include; 

Spirometry: This is the prevalent form of pulmonary function test that pulmonologists use to measure lung capacity. It also estimates the rate of air flowing in and out of the lungs. 

Pulse oximetry: Pulmonologists opt for this test to measure the oxygen level available in the blood accurately. 

Lung volume test: This test is used to measure the air volume in the lungs whenever a person is inhaling and exhaling. 

Fractional exhaled nitric oxide test: This test measures the levels of nitric oxide content in the breath. A high level of nitric oxide shows that the patient has asthmatic inflammation in the lungs. 

Arterial blood gas test: This test estimates the oxygen and carbon dioxide levels in the bloodstream. 

 

  • Chest and Lung Biopsy 

A biopsy involves removing tissue samples from the lungs or the membrane that surrounds the lungs (pleura). This procedure enables the pulmonologists to check and test for signs that may indicate infections, tumors, or inflammation. 

 

  • Sleep study tests

Patients with signs of obstructive sleep apnea can undergo sleep study tests to diagnose the condition further. Mostly, pulmonologists who particularize in sleep-disordered breathing issues can perform this test. It enables them to record the brain and muscle activities, heart rate, eye movement, and breathing rate while sleeping. 

 

Treatment Options for Pulmonology Conditions 

The treatment option for respiratory system disorders usually depends on the exact condition and the associated symptoms. Also, pulmonology medicines prescribed can range from oral drugs, an assortment of inhalers, to intravenous treatment forms. 

In case you experience any symptoms that might signify respiratory issues, the pulmonologist will first conduct diagnostic tests. This helps prescribe suitable medications. So the common treatment options based on the respiratory condition include; 

  • A wide range of inhalers, oral drugs, nebulizers, and injections for COPD. This, however, depends on the associated symptoms and severity. 
  • Inhalers and nebulizers for asthmatic patients
  • Oral medication for pulmonary fibrosis condition 
  • Supplemental oxygen for patients with advanced pulmonary fibrosis and COPD
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation to address advanced COPD

Other treatments and preventive options for pulmonary conditions include;

  • Quitting smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke
  • Avoiding or minimizing exposure to environmental pollutants 
  • Practicing home-based remedies such as steam and honey therapies
  • Practicing regular exercise to boost the heart rate 
  • Eating a well-balanced diet 
  • Going for regular checkups with the pulmonologist 

 

Conclusion 

Pulmonology is all about the medical study, diagnosis, and treatment of respiratory system disorders. A range of respiratory diseases often affects many people from time to time throughout the entire life. Some of these conditions are minor and common, while others pose adverse risks and other complications. 

For better diagnosis and treatment, you can always consider CloudHospital. It’s a comprehensive medical platform that gives you access to the best pulmonologists abroad. Their main objective is to provide you with quality care and treatment that will eventually lead to a permanent successful recovery.