|The FACES Foundation is a
|Every year, more than 349,000 people die
from lung disease.
That is almost one in 12 people. Lung disease is the number three cause
of death in the United States, responsible for one in seven deaths.
There are many types of lung diseases including:
ILD accounts for 15 percent of the cases seen by pulmonologists (lung
specialists). Some of the known causes include:
When a person has ILD, the lung is affected in three ways. First, the lung
tissue is damaged in some known or unknown way. Second, the walls of
the air sacs in the lung become inflamed or irritated. Finally, scarring (or
fibrosis) begins in the tissue between the air sacs (the interstitium), and
the lung becomes stiff and it’s difficult to breathe in and out.
Breathlessness during exercise (or even simple walking up stairs) can
be one of the first symptoms. A dry cough may also be present. Some
interstitial lung diseases improve with medication if treated when
inflammation occurs. Many individuals suffering from ILD may need
oxygen therapy as part of their treatment. Prednisone or some other
corticosteroid is frequently the first medication used. Other therapies
include: Investigational therapies, Pulmonary Rehab and in advanced
cases Lung Transplant.
Just as there is no single cause for lung disease, there is often no single
symptom of lung disease. Some conditions may send disease-specific
signals, such as the characteristic wheezing sound made as the asthma
sufferer attempts to exhale. Other lung disorders, such as emphysema,
may be evidenced mainly by increasing shortness of breath. Soon, the
slightest physical effort, something as simple as reaching for a coffee
mug from a cabinet, can result in a gasping for air. This oxygen deficiency
denies the patient many of the simplest pleasures in life. Other forms of
lung disease may be signaled by persistent cough, chest pain, shortness
of breath, abnormal sputum production, bloody sputum, or any
combination of these symptoms. When an infectious agent causes a lung
disease, there may also be fever and/or chills.
Any suspicion that the lungs might be malfunctioning means that a
person should seek medical attention. Unfortunately, many of these
symptoms go unnoticed.
* The above information is a compilation of information from The American Lung
Association (www.lungusa.org) and from The National Jewish Medical and Research