How are crackles in your lungs treated
Pulmonary Fibrosis - Scarred Lungs
Many patients suffer from a dry cough and report shortness of breath, which initially only occurs in stressful situations. Later they can hardly breathe, even when they are at rest. They often feel exhausted, have no appetite, and lose weight a lot.
The body is no longer adequately supplied with oxygen in later stages. Signs for this are:
- Cyanosis: blue lips and fingers
- Drumstick fingers: swollen end phalanxes
- Watch glass nails: conspicuously large, arched fingernails
How is pulmonary fibrosis diagnosed?
Since these symptoms can occur in a wide variety of lung diseases, your doctor will ask about typical symptoms and underlying diseases. If pulmonary fibrosis is suspected, he will also inquire whether you frequently come into contact with certain pollutants such as quartz sand or fungal spores. If necessary, he will carry out an allergy test.
Your doctor will get an initial overview through listening and a simple lung function test (spirometry). For example, he pays attention to typical crackling noises. This is often followed by a detailed lung function test and a blood gas analysis, which determines the level of oxygen in the blood.
Computed tomography provides accurate images of the condition of the lungs. If your doctor detects abnormal areas, he will perform a lungoscopy (bronchoscopy). He takes small tissue samples that are then examined in the laboratory. An additional blood test provides important information about any underlying diseases.
Stop scarring - support breathing
Again, the earlier the diagnosis, the better the course. Because scarred lung tissue cannot be repaired, therapy focuses on containing the disease.
The active ingredients pirfenidone and nintedanib can help slow down the scarring processes in patients with an unexplained cause of the disease. Cortisone and immunosuppressants inhibit inflammatory reactions. If the cause of the scarring is known, it is imperative to avoid it.
In advanced stages, oxygen therapy can help those affected to cope better with their everyday lives and to participate more actively. Finally, there is the option of a lung transplant - it can be a step towards everyday life without shortness of breath.
Pulmonary Fibrosis - Scar Lung
The so-called gas exchange takes place in the alveoli. They transport oxygen from the air we breathe into the blood. Conversely, carbon dioxide escapes from the blood into the alveoli and is exhaled. In the case of pulmonary fibrosis, the structure of the lungs is remodeled. This usually happens because the supporting tissue and the sensitive walls of the alveoli are chronically inflamed: the body reacts to this by converting the lungs into connective tissue there. These structures harden and scar. This reduces the surface area of the alveoli and makes the lungs as a whole less flexible.
Without an apparent cause: idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF)
In about half of all patients, the cause of the disease cannot be determined. It mainly affects people over the age of 50 and usually progresses very quickly. Experts suspect that pulmonary fibrosis is hereditary and that impaired repair and wound healing mechanisms can scar the organ. Smoking doubles the risk of developing pulmonary fibrosis.
Silicosis and asbestosis
Frequent contact with quartz and asbestos dust can lead to pulmonary fibrosis. The crystals of these substances are so small that they can get into the alveoli and cause inflammation there.
Certain organic dusts such as fungal spores also cause allergic inflammation in the alveoli of some people. If they are often inhaled - for example because of work - the chronic inflammation can lead to pulmonary fibrosis.
Drugs and rays
Some drugs such as bleomycin, busulfan and nitrofuran can, just like ionizing radiation in tumor treatment, change the structure of the lung structure and thus trigger pulmonary fibrosis, among other things.
Risk factor pre-existing illness
Some immune or connective tissue diseases increase the risk of pulmonary fibrosis. Sarcoid, for example, damages the pulmonary connective tissue through small nodules and a disturbed immune reaction.
Rheumatism can also affect the lungs as a disease of the immune system. With targeted therapy for the underlying disease, this long-term consequence can usually be prevented.
Initiative with pulmonary fibrosis:
- Avoid contact with substances harmful to the lungs - this includes tobacco smoke.
- Prevent lung infections: Your doctor will advise you whether a vaccination against the flu or pneumococci makes sense.
- Keep moving: breathing exercises and lung sports will help you.
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