Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that has been linked to human lung disease. All forms of asbestos increase the risk of lung disease. The three types of asbestos related lung disease are scarring (asbestosis), non-cancerous disease of the tissue of the lining of the surface of the lung (pleural disease), and Lung cancer.

Asbestosis is a process of lung tissue scarring cause by asbestos fibers. Asbestos is the only known risk factor for malignant mestothelioma, a cancer that affects the tissue lining the lung or abdomen. Smoking appears to increase the frequency and/or the rate of progression of asbestosis. Diagnosis of asbestosis or asbestos related lung diseases and cancer are often made using chest x-rays or CT scans of the lungs. Treatment of asbestos related diseases includes appropriate vaccinations, treatment of lung infections, smoking cessation, and the use of oxygen if necessary.


What is Asthma?

Asthma (from the Greek ἅσθμα, ásthma, "panting") is a common chronic inflammatory disease of the airways characterized by variable and recurring symptoms, reversible airflow obstruction, and bronchospasm. Common symptoms include wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath.

Asthma is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Its diagnosis is usually made based on the pattern of symptoms, response to therapy over time, and spirometry. It is clinically classified according to the frequency of symptoms, forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1), and peak expiratory flow rate. Asthma may also be classified as atopic (extrinsic) or non-atopic (intrinsic).

Treatment of acute symptoms is usually with an inhaled short-acting beta-2 agonist (such as salbutamol). Symptoms can be prevented by avoiding triggers, such as allergens and irritants, and by the use of inhaled corticosteroids. Leukotriene antagonists are less effective than corticosteroids and thus less preferred. The prevalence of asthma has increased significantly since the 1970s. As of 2010, 300 million people were affected worldwide. In 2009 asthma caused 250,000 deaths globally.

Blood Clots

Pulmonary embolism or blood clots in the lungs is a problem which occurs when one or even more arteries in the lungs are blocked. In many cases, blood clots in the lungs are caused by clots of blood that flow to your lungs from another area of the body most frequently your legs. Blood clots in the lungs can happen in people who are otherwise healthy. Symptoms and signs can vary from individual to individual, but normally include unexplained and sudden shortness of breath, pains in the chest and a cough that can bring up sputum that is blood tinged.

Blood clots in the lungs can be life threatening but treatment which is prompt using anti-clotting drugs can reduce greatly any risk of death. Taking actions to stop blood clots from forming in the legs also can help to protect an individual against pulmonary embolism or the clot from moving from the leg to the lungs. Blood clots in the lungs have symptoms that may vary significantly, contingent on how much of the lung is involved, the clot size and a person's general health, especially the existence or absence of any fundamental heart or lung disease.


Bronchitis is an inflammation of the mucous membranes of the bronchi (the larger and medium sized airways that carry airflow from the trachea into the more distal parts of the lung parenchyma). Bronchitis can be divided into two categories, acute and chronic.

Acute bronchitis is characterized by the development of a cough, with or without the production of sputum (mucus that is expectorated, or coughed up from the respiratory tract). Acute bronchitis often occurs during the course of an acute viral illness such as the common cold or flu. Viruses cause about ninety percent of acute bronchitis cases, whereas bacteria account for about ten percent. Chronic bronchitis, a type of COPD, is characterized by the presence of a productive cough that lasts for three months or more per year for at least two years.

Chronic bronchitis usually develops due to recurrent injury to the airways caused by inhaled irritants. Cigarette smoking is the most common cause, followed by exposure to air pollutants such as sulfur dioxide or nitrogen dioxide, and occupational exposure to respiratory irritants. Individuals exposed to cigarette smoke, chemical lung irritants, or who are immunocompromised have an increased risk of developing bronchitis.

Chronic Cough

A chronic cough is usually defined as a cough that lasts for eight weeks or longer. Although coughing is not usually a sign of a serious problem, it can be annoying. Coughing frequently is embarrassing, can make you physically tired, make it hard to sleep, and cause you to be dizzy, hoarse, strain muscles, sweat, and leak urine.

The most common causes of chronic cough are postnasal drip, asthma, and acid reflux from the stomach. These three causes are responsible for up to ninety percent of all cases of chronic cough. Less common causes include infections, medications, and lung diseases.

Postnasal drip occurs when secretions from the nose drip or flow into the back of the throat from the nose. These secretions can irritate the throat and trigger a cough. Postnasal drip can develop in people with allergies, colds, rhinitis, and sinusitis.

Asthma is the second most frequent cause of chronic cough in adults, and is the leading cause in children. In addition to coughing, you may also wheeze or feel short of breath.

Acid reflux occurs when acid from the stomach blows back into the esophagus. Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) refers to symptoms caused by acid reflux. Many people cough due to acid reflux have heartburn or a sour taste in the mouth.


What is COPD?

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), also known as chronic obstructive lung disease (COLD), chronic obstructive airway disease (COAD), chronic airflow limitation (CAL) and chronic obstructive respiratory disease (CORD), is the occurrence of chronic bronchitis or emphysema, a pair of commonly co-existing diseases of the lungs in which the airways narrow over time. This limits airflow to and from the lungs, causing shortness of breath (dyspnea). In clinical practice, COPD is defined by its characteristically low airflow on lung function tests. In contrast to asthma, this limitation is poorly reversible and usually gets progressively worse over time.

COPD is caused by noxious particles or gas, most commonly from tobacco smoking, which triggers an abnormal inflammatory response in the lung.

The diagnosis of COPD requires lung function tests. Important management strategies are smoking cessation, vaccinations, rehabilitation, and drug therapy (often using inhalers). Some patients go on to require long-term oxygen therapy or lung transplantation.

Worldwide, COPD ranked as the sixth leading cause of death in 1990. It is projected to become the fourth leading cause of death worldwide by 2030, due to an increase in smoking rates and demographic changes in many countries. COPD is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. and the economic burden of COPD in the U.S. in 2007 was $42.6 billion in health care costs and lost productivity.


Dyspnea, shortness of breath, or air hunger, is the subjective symptom of breathlessness. It is a normal symptom of heavy exertion but becomes pathological if it occurs in unexpected situations. In eighty five percent of cases it is due to either asthma, pneumonia, cardiac ischemia, interstitial lung disease, congestive heart failure, COPD, or psychogenic causes.


Emphysema is a disease of the air sacs, the stretchy clusters of tissue at the ends of bronchial tubes. Normally, the elastic air sacks expand as you breathe in and relax as you breathe out, like a balloon being blown up and deflated. With emphysema, the air sacs lose their elastic quality and they can no longer relax and let air out. They work like a paper bag blown up with air. When the bag is blown up, it stays full of air. The air is forced out by squeezing or pushing.

The break-down of the air sacs causes air to be trapped in the lungs, making them over inflated. This over inflation keeps the diaphragm from moving freely, which causes shortness of breath. Pushing this trapped air out of the lungs causes coughing and makes it difficult to clear mucus. The pressure caused by trying to force air out of the lungs causes the bronchial tubes to collapse. In time, emphysema may cause the lungs and the heart to enlarge.

The main cause of emphysema is smoking. However, emphysema can occur in people who have never smoked. Scientists believe that family history can make a person prone to getting emphysema. Environmental pollutants also can cause this disease.

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is the number one cause of cancer deaths in both men and women in the U.S. and worldwide. Cigarette smoking is the principal risk factor for development of lung cancer. Second hand exposure to tobacco smoke also can cause lung cancer.

The two types of lung cancer, which grow and spread differently, are the small cell lung cancers (SCLC) and non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC). The stage of lung cancer refers to the extent to which the cancer has spread in the body.

Cancer of the lung, like all cancers, results from an abnormality in the body's basic unit of life, the cell. Normally, the body maintains a system of checks and balances on cell growth so that cells divide to produce new cells only when new cells are needed. Disruption of this system of checks and balances on cell growth results in an uncontrolled division and proliferation of cells that eventually forms a mass know as a tumor.

Tumors can be benign or malignant. When we speak of cancer we are referring to those tumors that are malignant. Benign tumors usually can be removed and do not spread to other parts of the body. Malignant tumors, on the other hand, grow aggressively and invade other tissues of the body, allowing entry of tumor cells into the bloodstream or lymphatic system and then to other sites in the body.


Pneumonia is an inflammatory condition of the lung affecting primarily the microscopic air sacs known as alveoli. It is usually caused by infection with viruses or bacteria and less commonly other microorganisms, certain drugs and other conditions such as autoimmune diseases.

Typical symptoms include a cough, chest pain, fever, and difficulty breathing. Diagnostic tools include x-rays and culture of the sputum. Vaccines to prevent certain types of pneumonia are available. Treatment depends on the underlying cause. Presumed bacterial pneumonia is treated with antibiotics. If the pneumonia is severe, the affected person is generally admitted to hospital.

People with infectious pneumonia often have a productive cough, fever accompanied by shaking chills, shortness of breath, sharp or stabbing chest pain during deep breaths, and increased respiratory rate. In the elderly, confusion may be the most prominent sign. The typical signs and symptoms in children under five are fever, cough, and fast or difficult breathing.

Fever is not very specific, as it occurs in many other common illnesses, and may be absent in those with severe disease or malnutrition. In addition, a cough is frequently absent in children less than two months old. More severe signs and symptoms may include blue tinged skin, decreased thirst, convulsions, persistent vomiting, extremes of temperature, or a decreased level of consciousness.


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Pulmonary Fibrosis

Pulmonary fibrosis is the formation or development of excess fibrous connective tissue (fibrosis) in the lungs. It is also described as scarring of the lung. Symptoms of pulmonary fibrosis are shortness of breath, chronic dry hacking coughing, fatigue and witness, chest discomfort, loss of appetite and weight loss.

Pulmonary fibrosis may be a secondary effect of other diseases. Most of these are classified as interstitial lung diseases. Examples include autoimmune disorders, viral infections or other microscopic injuries to the lung. However, pulmonary fibrosis can also appear without any known cause. In this case, it is termed idiopathic. Most idiopathic cases are diagnosed as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. This is a diagnosis of exclusion of a characteristic set of histologic/pathologic features known as usual interstitial pneumonia.

Pulmonary Hypertension

Pulmonary hypertension is a rare lung disease in which the blood pressure in the main artery to your lungs is very high. This high pressure results in changes in the lung’s blood vessels and keeps the blood from flowing normally through these vessels.

The right ventricle and right atrium are the two chambers on the right side of the heart. High pressures in the lung’s vessels causes these chambers to become enlarged and weak and to not pump as well, resulting in right sided heart failure. Pulmonary hypertension is a long term or chronic disease. It affects both sexes, but is more common in women, and occurs between 30-45 years of age.

Pulmonary Nodules

A lung nodule is defined as a spot on the lung that is 3 cm in diameter or less. If an abnormality is seen on an X-ray of the lungs that is large than 3 cm, it is considered a lung mass instead of a nodule, and is more likely to be cancerous.

Lung nodules usually need to be at least 1 cm in size before they can be seen on a chest X-ray. Lung nodules are quite common, and are found on 1 in 500 chest X-rays and 1 in 100 CT scans of the chest. Approximately 150,000 lung nodules are detected in people in the U.S. each year. Roughly half of smokers over the age of 50 will have nodules on a CT scan of their chest.


Sarcoidosis causes inflammation of tissues in the body, and it’s characterized by granulomas, which are clumps of inflamed immune cells. It can attack any organ, but approximately ninety percent f sarcoidosis cases involve pulmonary organs. Pulmonary sarcoidosis causes loss of lung volume and increased lung stiffness. Sometimes symptoms don’t appear, and other times patients experience shortness of breath, dry cough, and wheezing. Sarcoidosis affects mainly adults between ages 20 and 40, and blacks have a three times greater risk for sarcoidosis as Caucasians.

Diagnosis typically involves a medical history, physical, and any number of diagnostic tests. A chest X-ray, which shows granulomas or lymph nodes, is almost always used to confirm a diagnosis of sarcoidosis. Ninety five percent of those with sarcoidosis have an abnormal chest x-ray. Pulmonary function tests are used to measure how your lungs are affected by the disease. A spirometer, for example, measures the amount of air that goes in and out of your lungs; low amounts can indicate sarcoidosis. Another measurement for sarcoidosis is the amount of oxygen in the blood. Pulse oximetry is a noninvasive method for showing the amount of oxygen the heart and lungs are moving into your blood. An arterial blood gas test reveals the same information as pulse oximetry, only an AB is invasive but more accurate. Sometimes a bronchoscopy is performed so doctors can take a look at your airways. A lavage also may be doe at the same time to bring up cells from the airways that may indicate the presence of granulomas.

Shortness of Breath

Shortness of breath has many causes affecting either the breathing passages and lungs or the heart or blood vessels. Shortness of breath is also referred to as dyspnea. Dyspnea is further classified as either occurring at rest or being associated with activity or exercise.

Sleep Evaluations & Treatments

After an initial consultation with your physician or a sleep specialist, you may be referred for a sleep study. The medical term for this study is Polysomnogram, which is a non-invasive, pain-free procedure that usually requires spending a night or two in a sleep facility. During a polysomnogram, a sleep technologist records multiple biological functions during sleep, such as brain wave activity, eye movement, muscle tone, heart rhythm and breathing via electrodes and monitors placed on the head, chest and legs.

After a full night’s sleep is recorded, the data will be tabulated by a technologist and presented to a physician for interpretation. Depending on the physician’s orders, patients may be given therapy during the course of the study, which may include medication, oxygen or a device called continuous positive airway pressure therapy or CPAP.

After an initial consultation with your physician or a sleep specialist, you may be referred for a sleep study. The medical term for this study is Polysomnogram, which is a non-invasive, pain-free procedure that usually requires spending a night or two in a sleep facility. During a polysomnogram, a sleep technologist records multiple biological functions during sleep, such as brain wave activity, eye movement, muscle tone, heart rhythm and breathing via electrodes and monitors placed on the head, chest and legs.

After a full night’s sleep is recorded, the data will be tabulated by a technologist and presented to a physician for interpretation. Depending on the physician’s orders, patients may be given therapy during the course of the study, which may include medication, oxygen or a device called continuous positive airway pressure therapy or CPAP.