What Is a Chronic Lung Disease?
Your pulmonary system is a complex network that provides vital oxygen to your blood. This system includes a windpipe that leads into tubes known as bronchi that spread out into smaller airway tubes that populate your lungs. When these airways are swollen or blocked, you struggle to breathe, which can endanger your overall health and make it difficult to function.
What Are the Different Types of Chronic Lung Diseases?
Some of the most common types of chronic lung disease include:
- Asthma – Often triggered by allergies and beginning in childhood, asthma is characterized by persistent wheezing and shortness of breath.
- Bronchitis – This is an inflammation of your bronchial tubes often brought on by a virus. Those with COPD may develop chronic bronchitis, which is characterized by a persistent wet cough.
- COPD – COPD is a chronic obstructive lung disease (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) where you struggle to exhale, which causes discomfort and interferes with the entire breathing process.
- Cystic Fibrosis – A condition that allows mucous to collect in your bronchi, which can lead to lung infections.
- Emphysema – The Alveoli in your lungs are damaged, causing air to become trapped inside, which makes it extremely difficult to exhale.
What Are the Symptoms?
The most notable symptom of chronic lung disease is shortness of breath. This can manifest as difficulty exhaling, difficulty inhaling, or both. This may also be accompanied by wheezing, rales (sort of like wheezing in reverse), and a cough, either wet (with mucous) or dry. Consistent struggling to take in oxygen can also put a strain on other organs, especially the heart.
What Are the Causes?
There are a number of likely causes of chronic lung disease, including:
- Genetics – Some people are just predisposed to chronic lung diseases.
- Environment – People in areas with high levels of air pollution are more likely to develop this condition.
- Smoking – Emphysema, for example, is closely linked to long-term smoking.
When you come to Esslinger Medical and Aesthetics for treatment for breathing difficulties, Dr. Esslinger will examine you to figure out if this is a short term problem like acute bronchitis, or if chronic lung disease is more likely. He will interview you about your history to help determine the nature of your breathing issues. He can test your lung capacity and listen to your chest, as well as take X-rays if necessary to arrive at the right diagnosis.
How Do We Treat Chronic Lung Diseases?
At Esslinger Medical and Aesthetics, we treat chronic lung disease in adults. For children, you should consult your pediatrician. Your treatment will depend on your condition and symptoms and may include a rescue inhaler and inhaled steroid for asthma or COPD. Lifestyle changes will likely be a large part of your treatment, as quitting smoking and maintaining a healthy weight are vital to good lung function.
Scheduling Chronic Lung Disease Care in Georgia
For over 25 years, Dr. Jeffrey D. Esslinger has made a habit of providing patient-focused care, preferring to attend to the long-term needs of patients in order to create an atmosphere of continuing good health. If you think you may be suffering from chronic lung disease in Cartersville or surrounding areas of Georgia and are looking for personalized, consistent care from a board-certified internist, contact Esslinger Medical and Aesthetics using the form below or by phone at 470-888-6543.