Health Tips for Seniors

Archive for May, 2006

Diseases of the Lungs – Emphysema, Abscess

Emphysema is a thinning out of the lung tissue itself and is seen only rarely below the age of fifty. When not enough lung tissue remains to carry on easy, effective breathing, more rapid breathing is required for complete full respiration. It is similar to breathing on mountain tops where breathing is difficult because the air is rarified. The accompanying chronic cough in emphysema is a dry hack, usually not productive of any sputum. Cure of emphysema is not possible, but the physician usually can treat this disease with measures which make breathing much easier.

Lung Abscess is a boil-like pocket of pus in the lungs. It is nearly always accompanied by pleurisy pain, fever and chills,

Fig. 50. Lung abscess is very serious. It can follow lung disease as pneumonia or tuberculosis, or may result from inhaled objects like peanuts or other small objects.

heavy night sweats, loss of weight and the general appearance of very severe disease. A productive cough usually brings up great quantities of pus and often bloody sputum. Any of these symptoms should be enough to send a person running to his physician. Lung abscess is a serious infectious disease, possibly following pneumonia or other lung infections, and it requires exceptional medical care for effective treatment.

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Diseases of the lungs – Bronchitis, Pleurisy

Bronchitis is an inflammation of the bronchial tubes. It frequently follows a cold, produces a cough, a sensation of tightness in the chest and a mild fever. Bronchitis may occur by itself, or with other difficulties, such as influenza, a common cold, grippe or allergy. Bronchiectasis, a chronic lung disease in nearly three percent of all adults, is a stretching, ballooning enlargement of the

Fig. 47. Bronchiectasis, discovered usually in adult years, most often begins in childhood. Definitely present in over 3 per cent of all adults, it is often the cause of many stubborn and longstanding coughs.

bronchial tube with the lungs. It is most often caused by measles and whooping cough infection of early childhood, which weak-

Fig. 48. Pain of pleurisy is caused by the lung “rubbing” against the outer chest wall. In normal breathing, the lung glides in the chest, like a swimmer in water. Brushing against a rough surface (broken ribs) produces knife-like pain.
To and fro motion of the lung is produced by the bellows-like motion of the outer chest wall. Holding the breath, stops the pain, shallow breathing produces only slight pain; deep breathing causes terrific pain. But breathing in any way would not effect pain from the heart.

ens the bronchial tubes and invites troubles which increase with age. Most people with bronchiectasis have very little trouble, but some will cough up daily a cup or more of thick, yellow sputum, which at times is blood-streaked. This disease is occasionally confused with lung cancer and other diseases. Its successful treatment requires careful guidance by a physician skilled in lung disease.

Pleurisy is not a disease, but rather a chest pain caused by the lung and chest wall rubbing against each other. In ordinary breathing, the smooth glistening lung surface glides painlessly

Fig. 49. Emphysema is a thinned-out lung substance in an enlarged chest, found most frequently in senior years. A cause of difficult breathing, it can be relieved greatly but not cured.

over the smooth inner chest wall, as the eyelid glides over the eye. However, if either the lung or chest wall become very irritated, the gliding action becomes a painful rubbing action, much worse with deep breathing and usually relieved by very shallow breathing. It can be caused by colds of the lungs, bronchitis, or more serious disease, such as cancer, tuberculosis or lung abscess. Therefore, severe frequent pleurisy calls for the physician’s investigation and diagnosis. Many pains are called pleurisy but, unless they are definitely related to breathing, they are probably not true pleurisy pains.

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