Pulmonary Terms

ARDS:  A serious condition in which the lungs fill with fluid from the circulation and interferes with oxygen getting through

Asbestosis:  A lung condition in which the lungs develop scar tissue related to asbestos exposure

Asthma:  A lung condition in which the air ducts become inflamed.  There is also excess mucous production by the glands in the lung and constriction of the airway which causes wheezing/whistling sounds.

Aspergillosis:  Fungal infection of the lung.

Acute Bronchitis:  Cough and mucous production due to infection, tobacco smoke, occupational exposure

Black Lung Disease:  Coal miner's lung which produces cough, congestion, COPD

Bronchiectasis:  Pockets of lung damaged in the past by pneumonia and prone to frequent infection and bleeding

BOOP:  Mucous plugging of the small air ducts.

Chronic Bronchitis:  Cough and mucous production for more than 3 months.

COPD:  Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease usually due to tobacco smoking but can also be due to untreated asthma.

Emphysema:  Damaged pockets of lung which can no longer carry oxygen properly and usually due to smoking tobacco.  Sometimes runs in families and not from smoking.

Empyema:  A serious condition in which fluid around the lining of the lung becomes infected.

Histoplasmosis:  A fungal infection of the lung from inhaling spores from soil.  Usually seen in southeastern and central states.  Spores are usually from bird or bat droppings.

Influenza:  Viral infection of the lungs with high fever.

Lung Cancer:  There are several types of lung cancer.  Treatment includes chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery.  Which of these is needed depends on what type and size when it is first discovered.

Mesothelioma:  Cancer of the lining of the lung usually due to asbestos exposure.

Mycobacterium:  This is a family of bacteria that causes infections by traveling through air, one of which is tuberculosis.

OSA:  A condition in which the throat closes or obstructs repeatedly during sleep and air can't get through.  This causes restless and unrefreshing sleep.  It is usually noticed with snoring, obesity, daytime sleepiness.

Peak Flow Meter:  This is a meter for asthmatics that measures how strong they can exhale.  It has a mouthpiece and a range of numbers.

Pertussis:  Is also known as whooping cough.  This is a contagious bacterial infection especially in babies.  Vaccination is important. 

Pulmonary Hypertension:  This is a condition in which there is high blood pressure in the circulation  of the lung.  It causes shortness of breath and sometime chest pain.  It is discovered by echocardiogram or heart catheterization.  It can be caused  by a variety of conditions such as COPD, heart valve problems, clots, liver disease, HIV, diet pills and sleep apnea.

Pulmonary Embolism:  This is a serious condition in which clots cause blockages in the circulation of the lung.  Clots in the blood stream can come from the limbs, pelvis, or even the heart chambers.  This causes shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness, fainting or can be fatal.  People who are sedentary or  not mobile due to their job, long travel in car or plane, recent injury or orthopedic surgery, morbid obesity, bed ridden illness, can all be prone to embolism.  Also birth control pills and medicines that contain estrogen hormones can cause clots.   

Pulmonary Fibrosis:  Scarring of the lungs.

Pulmonary Nodules:   These are small solid beads that are found in the lungs by chest x-ray or CT scan.  They may be benign and a remnant of old infection or they may be malignant and a sign of cancer.

Sarcoidosis:  An immune condition in which inflammatory cells develop into nodules or  beads most commonly in the lungs.  It can also occur in the lymph nodes, skin, heart, eyes, liver, kidneys, and brain.  It is often found accidentally by a chest x-ray done for another reason.  Many people don't develop any symptoms and it recedes on its own.  When it is in the lungs it causes shortness of breath.  The main treatment is prednisone which is a strong anti-inflammatory steroid medication. 

Silicosis:  Lung inflammation and scarring caused by exposure to silica dust usually in the silica industries.

Tuberculosis:  This is an infectious disease of the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body.  It is contagious and spreads through the air by people who have it and sneeze or cough.  It causes cough, fever, night sweats, and weight loss.  A sputum test and chest x-ray is needed to detect it.  Treatment includes multiple antibiotics that need to be taken daily for at least 9 months.