Pulmonary Illness
To benefit patients, families and caregivers dealing with diseases of the lungs.
The FACES Foundation is a
501(c)(3) organization.
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
Out of the top six causes of death, it is the only disease that
has risen over the past 30 years.
Lung disease and breathing problems is the number one
killer of babies younger than one year old.
The lung disease death rate has been continuously
increasing while death rates due to heart disease and
cancer have been declining.
The number one cause of cancer death in women and men
is due to lung cancer, yet funding far lacks that for breast and
prostate cancer.
Lung disease costs the American economy $81.6 billion in
direct healthcare expenditures every year, plus indirect costs
of $76.2 billion – a total of more than $157.8 billion.  

There are many types of lung diseases including:
Chronic Obstructive Lung (Pulmonary) Disease (COPD): Asthma,
Chronic Bronchitis, and Emphysema all affect a person’s airways and
limit or block the flow of air in or out of the lungs.
Infectious Lung Disease:  Pneumonia, Influenza, RSV and
Tuberculosis (TB)—are infections caused by bacteria or viruses that
affect the membrane (or pleura) that surrounds the lungs.
Lung Cancer: A disease characterized by uncontrolled growth and
spread of abnormal cells.
Respiratory failure, pulmonary edema, pulmonary embolism, and
pulmonary hypertension:  These all interfere with the normal gas
exchange and blood flow in the lungs.
Occupational:  These include diseases such as mesothelioma and
asbestosis.
Interstitial lung disease (ILD): Is a broad category of lung diseases
that includes more than 130 disorders characterized by scarring (i.e.
“fibrosis”) and/or inflammation of the lungs.

ILD accounts for 15 percent of the cases seen by pulmonologists (lung
specialists). Some of the known causes include:
Connective Tissue or Autoimmune Disease
Occupational and Environmental Exposures - inorganic dust, organic
dust, gases and fumes
Drugs and Poisons – Chemotherapy mediations, antibiotics (rare),
Radiation therapy
Infections – Residue of active infection of any type or ongoing chronic
infections

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
Center (www.nationaljewish.org).