Health Tips for Seniors

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.

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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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