There are many different types of chronic lung disease that vary in severity, be that as it may, one thing is certain: the number of individuals impacted by lung disease is rapidly increasing in the United States. An early analysis can help begin treatment and keep the disease from advancing rapidly.
When you breathe, your lungs intake oxygen from the air and distribute it to the bloodstream. Your body needs oxygen for your cells to work and grow. On a normal day, an average person breathes nearly 25,000 times. Many with chronic lung disease have difficulty breathing. If all types of lung disease were lumped together, it would be the third leading killer in the United States.
Types of Chronic Lung Disease
- Asthma. Asthma is a chronic (continuous) disease of the bronchial tubes (airways in the lungs). These airways carry air into and out of the lungs. In individuals with asthma, the walls of these airways become inflamed (swollen) and hypersensitive. The airways overreact to any irritation such as smoke, air pollution, mold, and allergens (such as pollen and dust mites). Whenever the airways are inflamed, they narrow, limiting the airflow into and out of the lungs. This narrowing causes difficulty breathing and can induce wheezing, coughing and tightness in the chest.
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (or COPD) consists of a few different conditions. The main two are chronic bronchitis and emphysema. COPD causes progressive inflammation of the bronchial tubes. This inflammation causes the production of excess mucus as well as difficulty breathing. This increase in mucus can lead to a persistent cough and can also increase an individual’s chances of developing infections. Emphysema damages the air sacs at the end of the bronchial tubes, which decreases the oxygen that is passed into the bloodstream. This causes patients to suffer from shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing. The main cause of COPD is smoking cigarettes or being exposed to high quantities of second hand smoke.
- Pulmonary Emboli. Pulmonary emboli are blood clots of various sizes that form in other parts of the body and travel through the body, becoming stuck within the lungs. Blood clots that are smaller in size can cause breathing problems and decrease the oxygen flow to the bloodstream. Larger blood clots within the lungs can become fatal.
- Lung Cancer. Lung cancer is a disease in which abnormal lung cells develop and multiply without control. These cancerous cells can attack nearby tissues, spread to different parts of the body, or both. The two noteworthy sorts of lung cancer are named for the way the cells look under a magnifying instrument.
- Small cell lung cancer. This type of lung cancer tends to spread quickly
- Non-small cell lung cancer. This is an umbrella term for the multiple types of lung cancers that behave in a similar way. Typically, lung cancers are non-small cell. This type of lung cancer tends to spread slower than small cell lung cancer.
- Pulmonary Fibrosis. A rare lung disease where the tissues in the lungs become scarred and stiffen over time. The lungs’ ability to supply oxygen to the bloodstream decreases heavily.
- Pulmonary Hypertension. Pulmonary hypertension is a type of chronic lung disease in which the blood pressure within the lungs spikes to a dangerous level. The elevated pressure forces the heart work harder and pump more oxygen-rich blood into the lungs. This can lead to heart failure if left untreated.
- Pneumonia and Influenza. Pneumonia is the inflammation of the lungs caused by bacteria, fungi, or viruses. Fluid pools in the lungs and may lower the amount of oxygen that the blood can receive from air breathed in. Influenza (the flu) is a respiratory infection caused by a virus and can damage the lungs severely. Typically, most people recover from the flu, however, it can be deadly in some cases.
What Causes Chronic Lung Disease?
- Smoking. Cigarettes, pipes, and cigars are the number one cause of lung disease. Smoking or being exposed to this smoke for long periods of time damages the lungs and increases the chance for lung disease and heart disease. Tobacco smoke is made up of thousands of chemicals, including nearly 70 that are known to cause cancer, lung disease, and other health complications.
- Radon. Exposure to forms of radiation can increase an individual’s chances of developing lung diseases. The most common form of radiation exposure is from radon. Radon is a colorless and odorless gas that is created naturally through the decay of radioactive elements, it is also a common element found throughout the world in various amounts of soil and rock. You can test your home for radon with a kit that can be bought at most hardware stores. As radon in the air breaks down, it attaches and fuses with dust particles that can be inhaled into the lungs. These inhaled particles give off radiation that can damage the bodies cells and cause various health problems.
- Asbestos. Asbestos is a natural mineral fiber that has various uses. The most common are insulation, fireproofing materials, vehicle breaks, and more. Asbestos gives off small fibers that are not visible to the naked eye and can be inhaled. When inside the lungs, these particles harm the lungs cells, causing scarring on the lungs and can cause various types of cancer. Individuals whom are exposed to high quantities of asbestos are particularly at risk of mesothelioma, a cancer that forms in the tissue covering the lungs and other organs in the body.
The term “lung diseases” is ultimately an umbrella term used to cover different disorders affecting the lunch, asthma, COPD, infections such as influenza and pneumonia, and other various lung complications. If you have recently been diagnosed with a lung disease and are unable to work for extended periods of time, due to your condition – contact us today to see if you have a claim for long term disability benefits. Receiving benefits for lung diseases is never an easy task, as claims are frequently wrongfully denied by insurance companies. Call Mehr, Fairbanks & Peterson at 800-249-3731 today to receive a free consultation.