Chest diseases are diseases or disorders occurring in the lungs causing respiratory system to not work properly. There are three main types of chest diseases. Airway diseases like asthma & COPD, Lung tissue diseases like pneumonias & pulmonary fibrosis, and Lung circulation diseases like pulmonary hypertension & PTE infarcts. Many lung diseases involve a combination of these three types.
Pneumonia is an inflammation of the lung tissue most commonly caused by bacterial or viral infection. Symptoms include sudden onset of high fever, chills, cough, sputum, chest pain, breathing difficulty, etc.
Detailed history of symptoms, thorough clinical examination will make your doctor suspect pneumonia, who may ask for blood tests, chest X-ray, sputum test, pleural fluid exam, etc before starting the treatment.
Treatment depends on the cause and severity of the pneumonia. Most community acquired infections are managed at home. But severe infections particularly with other co-morbid illnesses like diabetes require hospitalisation. Different Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial pneumonia but are ineffective against viral pneumonia.
COPD stands for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Cigarette smoking is the most common cause of COPD. Exposure to household smoke (chulha), other irritants, such as Chemicals, Dust, Air pollution and passive smoking contribute significantly to development and worsening of COPD. Even if there is no perfect cure for COPD, certain measures can be taken to manage the disease and improve patient‘s quality of life.
Common COPD symptoms are chronic cough, production of lots of mucus, breathlessness especially with activity, wheezing, tightness in the chest and only limited relief with routine medication.
The most common test used to diagnose COPD is PFT (Spirometry). Additional tests may have to be ordered to rule out other lung problems, such as asthma or heart failure.
Tuberculosis (TB) is a disease caused by a bacillus called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacilli usually attack the lungs, but TB bacilli can cause disease in any part of the body. If not treated properly, TB disease can be fatal.
Symptoms of TB disease include a bad cough that lasts for more than 3 weeks, pain in the chest, coughing up sputum or blood, weakness or fatigue, loss of appetite, loss of weight and low grade fever.
On clinical examination if TB is suspected then you will be asked to undergo certain laboratory tests like sputum & blood tests, X-ray chest, skin test, etc. Additional tests may be required to rule out other conditions and associated diseases.
As soon as the diagnosis is established a combination of several drugs usually for 6 to 9 months, are prescribed taking into account factors like age, weight, likely bacillary population and other existing illnesses. It is very important to finish the medicine, and take the drugs exactly as prescribed. If you stop taking the drugs too soon or if you do not take the drugs correctly, the bacilli may become resistant. TB that is resistant to drugs is called MDR or XDR TB and it is very difficult and more expensive to treat.
Allergy & Asthma
An allergy is body’s abnormally high sensitivity to certain substances resulting in exaggerated reactions in the target organs leading to symptoms like itchy eyes, sneezing, runny or blocked nose, cough, breathing difficulty, itching or skin rashes.
The most common allergens include dust mites, molds (fungi), pollens, animal dander, cockroaches, nuts, spices, milk, and eggs. The house dust mite is the most common cause of allergies.
The most common allergic diseases are allergic rhinitis, asthmatic bronchitis (ASTHMA), allergic conjunctivitis (eyes), urticaria (hives), allergic dermatitis (skin), and food allergy.
A specialist can diagnose your allergies using allergy skin tests, which show if your immune system reacts disproportionately to specific allergens and the quantum of reactivity can also be known.
Allergy does not discriminate on the basis of age. Allergic reactions can develop at any time in life whether it is one day, one year, 10 years, 40 years or 60 years of your age.
Allergy treatments involve 3 fundamental principles. First, Avoidance of the known allergen. Second, Drug therapy with oral or local medication (nasal spays or inhalers). Finally, when avoidance and drug therapy fail to adequately control the allergic disease, specific Allergen immunotherapy (desensitisation) is used.
It is most important to remember that all allergic diseases, such as allergic rhinitis and asthma, are chronic diseases which require long-term management to better control and prevent the inflammatory complications.
Asthma is a chronic, inflammatory disease of the lungs in which the airways narrow leading to symptoms like coughing, breathlessness, chest tightness, wheezing, often in response to triggers such as exposure to an allergen, exercise, or emotional stress.
Common asthma triggers include allergens (dust, pollens, molds, animal dander), air pollution, industrial chemical exposure, upper respiratory infections, perfumes and strong smells, cold air, exercise, and emotional stress.
Since asthma symptoms can closely resemble symptoms of other respiratory problems asthma often goes undiagnosed for long periods of time. Doctors diagnose asthma with tests like PFT (Spirometry - which measures the air inhaled and exhaled from the lungs), oximetry, Peakflowmetry, chest x-rays, blood tests, and allergy skin tests.
The best way to treat asthma is to avoid the allergens or triggers that bring on an asthma attack. However, allergen avoidance is not always possible. Drug therapy consists of anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce inflammation and swelling and bronchodilators to open up constricted airways. Long term control of asthma is possible with the use of inhaled medication, which if indicated can be safely taken for years under medical supervision.