Our lungs supply the body with oxygen and dispose of the decomposition product carbon dioxide. But environmental toxins such as particulate matter, tobacco smoke and pollen make it difficult for the lungs to do their job. The lungs are located in the chest, which is separated from the abdominal cavity by the diaphragm. They supply our body with oxygen. The air flows through the bronchial canal system into the alveoli. These are separated from the blood only by a delicate wall so that the oxygen can easily enter the blood.
Oxygen uptake and carbon dioxide emissions
When inhaled, new air gets into the lungs with a lot of oxygen. When exhaling, the used air is transported back out with carbon dioxide as a decomposition product. One differentiates between breast and abdominal breathing.
Proper breathing promotes oxygen uptake - the body is supplied with more oxygen and feels better. Things are different when flying or on high mountains - here, the low oxygen content of the air causes a person to feel uncomfortable.
Shortness of breath and noises when breathing
With colds or hay fever, it often happens that the bronchial tubes also get sick - for example, coughing indicates bronchial involvement. After a few days, the initial irritative cough usually develops into a productive cough with sputum or a typical coughing sound, as in whooping cough.
Sounds when inhaling or exhaling indicate an obstacle in the airflow path - with an inhalation sound this could mean a laryngitis (laryngitis or pseudo-group), with the exhalation humming noises or a whistling typical for asthma.
The feeling of not getting more air can have many causes. The child should always remember that it could have swallowed a foreign body (emergency!). In adults, pulmonary embolism or pulmonary edema may obstruct the path between airflow and blood, or constriction of the bronchi, as in asthma, can lead to acute respiratory distress.
What do you mean when breathing?
Breathing pain occurs with inflammation of the bronchi, lungs, and lung pleura, or broken ribs - each breath can be so painful that one inhales only very carefully. This is especially good for the infectious agents, because they love less oxygen and can spread more easily. If you breathe too fast, you will eventually become dizzy. This type of breathing is called hyperventilation.
- Anamnesis (ask the medical history): All complaints can be further limited by specific questions. Especially with emerging asthmatic complaints, evidence of a pet or a new home is important to clarify an allergic component.
- Inspection (observation), percussion (knocking) and auscultation (interception): When tapping a changed knocking sound at the lower edge of the lung indicates a fluid accumulation (pleural effusion) - this often occurs concomitantly with pneumonia. When listening, you can better allocate many breath sounds. Whether bronchitis, asthma or water in the lungs - as it can occur in heart failure - each disease reveals its own sounds.
- Pulmonary function test: This controls whether the lungs can transport the air in and out well. In asthma, COPD or emphysema, the ability to inhale and exhale quickly is limited. A swab or ejection specimen will be used in cases of bronchial and pulmonary infection.
- Allergy diagnostics: In asthma, various skin and blood tests clarify against which substances the person is allergic. However, there are also asthma forms in which even cold air or cigarette smoke as a stimulus sufficient to provoke an asthma attack.
- X-ray, ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): Who has not seen an x-ray of his lungs? The chest X-ray is one of the standard tests before surgery, in case of suspected pneumonia, heart failure or unclear cough. If the examiner is unsure whether there is inflammation or even lung cancer in the poorly visible area behind the heart, a computed tomography or nuclear spin recording is also made.
Asthma, hay fever, pneumonia
The bronchoscope is used to look into the bronchial tubes if bronchial carcinoma is suspected. The bronchi as a lung canal system are equipped with a sensitive mucous membrane. This can be allergic to foreign substances that are transported with the air into the lungs.
- animal hair
- particulate matter
Immune globulin E, which is found in the mucous membrane, reacts on contact with these allergenic foreign substances causing histamine release and other substances that cause itching, mucosal swelling and constriction of the bronchi. This is how allergic asthma develops. In hay fever, which often spreads to asthma, this mechanism takes place in the nose. Even children can be affected.
An aborted cold can develop into bronchitis and even pneumonia - some aggressive pathogens such as influenza viruses, pneumococci, Legionnaires' disease triggers, or fungi immediately attack the lung tissue.
Infectious diseases like bronchitis and tuberculosis
The lung may be affected by a variety of infectious diseases:
- Bronchitis distinguishes between an acute form that occurs in a common cold and a chronic form that is at risk of becoming COPD for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
- Another infectious disease that affects the lungs is tuberculosis, which has made a career as a tuberculosis in literature and opera and is unfortunately still the most common infectious disease today.
- SARS and avian flu are lung diseases that are making headlines worldwide because there is no vaccine against them and therefore preventing the spread of the disease plays a special role.
- In congenital immunodeficiency or cystic fibrosis infection of the lungs is extremely dangerous for the person affected - both the defective immune system and the viscous mucus lead to serious disease.
- Chronic bronchitis severely affects the lungs in the long run, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which is common in smokers, or deficiency of alpha-1-antitrypsin, an important protective protein in the lungs, can severely shorten life.
- Pulmonary embolism and pulmonary edema are diseases in which the heart is always affected. The change in the blood pressure situation in the lungs leads to heart failure.
Treatment and therapy
Lung cancer is next to colon cancer, prostate cancer and breast cancer, the third most common cancer in Germany - and unfortunately there is no good early detection measure against it. In allergies, hay fever and asthma, avoiding the allergen is the first therapeutic measure. An inhalation of various asthma remedies - including cortisone - is usually necessary in the acute disease.
Hyposensitization to the strongest allergen is performed at a symptom-free interval and can attenuate the disease severity. Staying in the pollen-free high mountains or in the health resort on the lake is extremely helpful for allergy sufferers.
The inhalation of ethereal vapors creates cold sniffles relief.
In the case of chronic bronchitis, COPD or lung cancer, nicotine abstinence is the top priority. In addition to many tips on smoking waiver, there is a hotline for smoking cessation for smoking cancer patients.
Of course, there is a special procedure for each disease with medication or surgery - you can find more information on the particular disease.
Precaution: Preventive measures
Breathing - deeply, consciously and correctly - is part of the teachings of the Maznadan, of yoga exercises and many other movement teachings. Exercise helps even in asthma - patients feel fitter and the disease no longer so delivered. Prevention is important in many lung diseases - quitting smoking during pregnancy, in the company of children or even in crowds should be self-evident.
Flu or pneumococcal vaccines provide effective protection against aggressive pneumonia in the cold season. Zinc-rich nutrition is helpful in both allergies and tuberculosis - zinc deficiency makes allergies break out more quickly and tuberculosis medication works worse.