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LUNG ABSCESS

A lung abscess is formed when an infected area of lung tissue becomes surrounded by lung inflammation. The infected lung tissue dies and is replaced with pus. Usually a lung abscess is a complication of pneumonia. The infection is not contagious from person to person.

Symptoms of lung abscess are a cough with pus-like sputum that may be blood streaked or smell bad, bad breath, sweating, fever to 101 degrees or higher, chills, weight loss and sometimes chest pain. A lung abscess that is not treated, or does not respond well to antibiotics may lead to further lung problems including bronchiectasis, empyema, bleeding in the lungs, or spread of the infection to other parts of the body, especially the brain.

Lung abscess is diagnosed using blood tests and sputum cultures. X-rays and lung scans also assist with diagnosis. A bronchoscopy may be ordered to obtain a sputum specimen or if a foreign body is suspected as a cause for the abscess.

Antibiotics for an extended period of time are the mainstay of treatment to fight the infection and prevent it from coming back. Surgery to drain the pus from the abscess or to remove the abscess and part of the lung may be necessary if the abscess does not heal.

For more information about lung abscess, check the following web sites:

http://pulmonarychannel.com, or http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov

PLEURISY

Pleurisy is a type of chest pain that occurs when the internal lining of the lung, called the pleura, is inflamed. The pleura is a thin, 2-layered membrane that covers the lungs and the inside of the rib cage. Pleurisy is a symptom that may be present with many different diseases, including various infections, pneumonia, tuberculosis, chest wall injury, with a collapsed lung, arthritis, heart failure, or cancer. The most common cause is a viral infection, such as a cold or the flu. Smoking increases your risk of developing pleurisy.

Pleuritic pain is described as sudden, sharp chest pain when you breathe, especially when taking a deep breath, or when you cough, sneeze, or laugh. This may cause shortness of breath, because it hurts to breathe.

Your physician will examine you and listen to your lungs with a stethescope. He may order a chest x-ray or blood tests. Sometimes the inflammation that causes pleurisy also causes excess fluid collection in the pleural space. This is called a pleural effusion. If a pleural effusion is present, your physician may perform a thoracentesis.

IDIOPATHIC PULMONARY FIBROSIS

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a disease where inflammation results in scarring, or fibrosis of the lungs. When the delicate air sacs of the lungs are scarred, oxygen cannot be absorbed as easily. There is also tissue between the airways that support and cushion the bronchial tubes and air sacs. When this tissue becomes scarred, it looses it's ability to stretch, and prevents the lungs from expanding fully.

The cause of IPF is unknown. Currently researchers think IPF may be caused by the body's own immune system attacking itself, or from the after effects of a viral infection.

No matter what causes it, the trigger for IPF seems to set off a series of events in which inflammation, the activity of the immune system, and the fibrosis process become uncontrollable.

Most of the time, IPF has a gradual onset of symptoms. Often, patients have a gradual onset of shortness of breath and cough as their earliest symptoms which may develop over months to years. As the disease progresses, shortness of breath increases and interferes with daily activities. A person's ability to fight off infection may be impaired.

IPF is diagnosed with a lung biopsy. There are other lung diseases that mimic IPF in the way they appear on x-ray and on CT scans and in their symptoms. Because treatment varies for different diseases, it is important to know for sure if IPF is present. Your physician will also perform pulmonary function tests and blood tests to determine your present lung function.

The best chance for slowing the progression of IPF is to receive treatment as soon as possible. Treatment for IPF may vary a greatly depending on the age of the patient and stage of the disease. The aim of treatment is to decrease the inflammation and stop the scarring from taking place. Once scar tissue has formed in the lung it cannot return back to normal.

Treatment options for IPF are limited at this time, however, researchers are currently involved in studies looking at new drugs and methods of treatment. One of the newer medications available is called Actimmune. It is given as an injection a couple times a week. Sometimes chemotherapy is used in treatment. Prednisone is another medication that may be prescribed. Oxygen will likely be needed at some point in the disease process. This can help relieve the feeling of breathlessness experienced because of low oxygen levels in the blood. Lung transplant has been considered in some patients with late-stage disease.

For more information about Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, check the following web sites:

http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov, http://pulmonarychannel.com, or http://www.lungusa.org