Pulmonary complications: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help
About pulmonary complications
Pulmonary complications refer to complications in the lungs which may arise from various diseases. Such complications of the lungs can manifest as pneumonia, interstitial lung disease, lung abscess or even collapse of the lungs. This may affect an individual’s ability to breathe and get sufficient oxygen into the bloodstream.
Pulmonary complications: Incidence, age & sex
The incidence of pulmonary complications depends upon the underlying cause. There is no genetic predilection for pulmonary complications. Adults are more frequently affected than children.
Signs and symptoms of pulmonary complications: Diagnosis
The predominant symptoms of any kind of lung complication or affliction include shortness of breath, chest tightness or cough. Some individuals may also complain of blood streaked sputum associated with cough. Longstanding lung afflictions may cause reduced oxygen levels in the blood which may present as clubbing (a painless enlargement of the fingertips) and an enlarged heart. Moreover the above mentioned clinical features may be associated with the symptoms of the underlying cause.
The condition needs to be thoroughly evaluated to detect the underlying cause of the pulmonary complication. Imaging modalities like chest X-ray and CT scan of the lung(s) can be done to assess the severity of lung condition. Other non-invasive tests like measurement of oxygen levels in arterial blood and pulmonary function tests which exhibit the functional capacity of lung may help in assessing the pulmonary status. However, it is important to conduct relevant diagnostic procedures in order to detect the underlying cause of such pulmonary complications.
Cause and prevention of pulmonary complications
Several causes are known to result in pulmonary complications like HIV, bone marrow transplantation, and several cancers like breast cancer, bowel cancer. HIV-infected individuals are quite prone to lung problems which include pneumonia and tuberculosis commonly. Many malignant cancers like breast cancer, bowel cancer, and stomach cancer commonly spread to the lungs through the bloodstream. Moreover, general anaesthesia may sometimes result in serious pulmonary complications.
This pulmonary complication associated with general anaesthesia is more commonly seen in smokers and obese individuals. Thus, weight control and smoking cessation may help in preventing this particular pulmonary complication.
Pulmonary complications: Complications
Pulmonary complications may themselves result in long-term health concerns like pulmonary hypertension which involves high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs. This is a serious condition which may not only damage lungs but also adversely affect the heart. Other complications include heart failure and respiratory failure which are potentially fatal complications. Moreover, other complications may also arise from the specific underlying cause.
Pulmonary complications: Treatment
The first and most significant step in the management of pulmonary complication is to evaluate its underlying cause and manage it. In most of the cases, appropriate management of the underlying cause may stop the progress of lung deterioration. For example, infectious lung conditions like pneumonia and tuberculosis may improve with appropriate antibiotic management. Concurrent management of pulmonary complications by oxygen therapy or respiratory therapy (pulmonary rehabilitation) may also be considered to improve daily functioning of the lungs. Smoking cessation is essential. Surgical intervention which includes ‘lung transplantation’ is the last option in certain rare cases when affected individuals exhibit extremely poor functioning of the lungs and are resistant to the previously stated conservative treatment modalities.