Lung Health & Disease

Lung Health & Disease Articles

TB (Tuberculosis) Skin Test

Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection that most often involves the lungs, but can involve many other organs. Although antibiotics can treat most cases, TB remains one of the most common causes of death worldwide. The TB skin test, also called the purified protein derivative (PPD) test or Mantoux test, shows if you've ever been infected with the bacteria that cause tuberculosis. Infections with these bacteria can be active or inactive. In active infections, the bacteria are reproducing rapidly, and the person is contagious when he or she coughs. In people with inactive infections, the bacteria are alive deep within the lungs, but "asleep." Because inactive infections can later "wake up" and become active, it is important to recognize and treat both types of TB infections. Vaccinations, corticosteroids such as prednisone and other drugs that suppress the immune system such as biologic agents can affect the results of the test. So, tell your doctor if you've recently been vaccinated for an infectious disease or if you're taking a corticosteroid or other immune suppressant. (Locked) More »

Preventing seasonal maladies

Older adults are especially susceptible to winter illnesses. This is partly because of a weakened immune system. Common winter illnesses include the common cold, sinusitis, bronchitis, pneumonia, influenza, and stomach bugs. To ward off winter illness, one should get the proper vaccines, wash hands before eating or touching the face, carry hand sanitizer, avoid close contact with people who’re under the weather, and stay away from shared food like potlucks and buffets. More »

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 »