What Causes Inflamed Lungs?

The time in which a person suffers with inflamed lungs can be very frightening. Our lungs, while very powerful in their own right, are also very susceptible to infection and inflammation. The lungs play a vital role in pulling oxygen from the air that we breathe and transferring it into the blood stream. The lungs then release the carbon dioxide gas from the body. As you can imagine, there are many health issues that can arise when the lungs are not able to fulfill their duty due to inflammation. We are going to discuss what lung inflammation is, the symptoms it produces, as well as the treatments available to improve the condition.

When the inner tissues of the body are exposed to harmful bacteria, chemicals, or damaged cells, these tissues have what is called an inflammatory response. In most cases, this response occurs in the form of reddening of the tissues and an increase in body temperature. It is not uncommon for one to run a fever while a part of the body is inflamed because cranking up the heat is the body’s natural response to preventing the further spread of bacteria.

There are several symptoms that can be associated with inflamed lungs, but because they have a tendency to be quite broad in the amount of conditions they can be applied to, it can be difficult to pinpoint the exact issue. In most cases, inflamed lungs will cause a fever, coughing spells, and chills—much like one would experience with the flu. There are, however, other more unique symptoms that can lead a doctor to suspect that the lungs are inflamed. For instance, trouble breathing, sharp pains that occur when taking a breath, and the inability to take deep breaths without experiencing pain are all indicators of lung inflammation.

So what kinds of conditions cause lung inflammation? Pleurisy is a likely culprit when it comes to inflamed lungs. Pleurisy is a condition in which the lining of the lungs becomes inflamed due to the presence of a viral infection. When the layers of the lungs’ lining rub together, the sensation causes pain in the chest area which can eventually spread to the back and shoulders. Coughing, sneezing, fever, and shallow breathing may also be present. Treatment for pleurisy begins by inserting a tube between the ribs and into the pleural space. This enables the doctor to remove excess fluid and air that, if left to build, could cause the pleural space to push too heavily against the lung resulting in a collapse. Anti-inflammatory medications such as acetaminophen or indomethacin may be taken to reduce the inflammation and codeine-based cough syrups can ease coughing and soreness in the throat.

Bronchitis is another common infection that can result in inflamed lungs. Bronchitis is caused by an infection in the mucous membrane of the airways in the lungs. Bronchitis is almost always caused by a viral infection but in some cases it could be a result of a bacterial infection. Coughing, shortness of breath, and a very sore throat are symptoms of bronchitis. While antibiotics may be prescribed, they really cannot cure a viral illness. In most cases, acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be taken to reduce muscle pain and fever. A humidifier can also reduce throat dryness and coughing. If coughing is particularly persistent, an over the counter cough suppressant can be used. In typical scenarios involving bronchitis, it is simply a matter of treating the symptoms and playing the waiting game until the body naturally gets rid of the virus.

If one suspects any trouble with their lungs, a doctor should be seen right away. As mentioned earlier with pleurisy, some conditions can cause long-term and even permanent damage to the lungs, and possibly even death.