Lung Health & Disease

Lung Health & Disease Articles

E-cigarettes: Hazardous or helpful?

Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) may expose people to fewer toxins than regular cigarettes. But their efficacy as a smoking cessation tool and long-term safety remain hazy. Unlike other nicotine replacement therapies such as patches, pills, and gums, e-cigarettes are not FDA-approved for smoking cessation. Still, some experts say e-cigarettes might help people quit if coupled with behavioral therapy and an established, agreed upon time for complete cessation. (Locked) More »

Shortness of breath: A common symptom with many possible causes

Shortness of breath can result from a range of problems, but heart or lung conditions are usually to blame. Sudden breathing problems may be a heart attack or pulmonary embolism, which require immediate attention. Breathing problems that come on more gradually and during physical activity may be caused by aortic stenosis or heart failure. Worsening breathing problems with coughing may be chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which often coexists with heart disease. (Locked) More »

Cracking the cough code

Coughs can indicate different types of underlying conditions. Wet coughs that produce sputum are associated with postnasal drip, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, bronchiectasis, and nontuberculous mycobacteria infection. A dry cough (no sputum) is typically a reaction to something irritating the throat, such as a pollutant in the air, or certain conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease. A cough that sounds like a seal’s bark may be caused by infection or a disease. A cough marked by a whooping sound signals pertussis. (Locked) More »

What causes acute bronchitis?

Acute bronchitis is usually caused by a viral infection. It’s an inflammation of the breathing tubes in the lungs that causes a cough and sometimes pain in the chest. The cough can be dry or wet. A wet cough expels material from the lungs: mucus and sometimes white blood cells from the inflammation. Treatment typically involves medicine to suppress a cough. Antibiotics or antiviral drugs usually are not prescribed, since acute bronchitis resolves on its own. (Locked) More »

Something in the air

Exposure to particulate matter from air pollution has been shown to increase inflammatory markers in the bloodstream and oxidative stress, which are associated with a higher risk of heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes. People can protect themselves by avoiding high-pollution areas, restricting their time outside when air quality is poor, and exercising indoors when necessary. (Locked) More »

Understanding COPD from a cardiovascular perspective

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) includes damage to the air sacs of the lungs (emphysema) and inflammation in the lung’s airways (bronchitis). Some of the symptoms of COPD, such as trouble breathing, fatigue, and chest tightness during physical activity, may be mistakenly attributed to heart disease. Smoking increases the risk of both heart disease and COPD. Current or former smokers should consider getting tested for COPD with a simple lung function test known as spirometry. More »

What's that chest pain?

The big fear about chest pain is that it’s the result of a heart attack. Symptoms can include pressure or squeezing in the chest, lightheadedness, and pain in the shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, or back. However, chest pain can have any number of causes, such as heartburn, a panic attack, an overuse injury that inflames the chest wall, or a lung condition. Chest pain that is sudden or severe warrants a call to 911. If it’s been going on for months, it’s probably okay to be evaluated at a doctor’s office instead of the emergency department. (Locked) More »