It’s easy to take your lungs for granted when they’re strong and healthy. But even a mild lung disease can interfere with breathing, helping you truly appreciate every breath you take.
Chronic lung diseases are a common cause of breathing problems, and early treatment is important for helping relieve your symptoms and improve your overall health and quality of life.
At his practice in Lakeland, Florida, Sergio B. Seoane, MD, helps patients find relief for respiratory symptoms with patient-centered care for lung diseases, including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and lung cancer, the three diseases described in this post.
About 26 million Americans have asthma, a chronic lung condition that causes your airways to become irritated and inflamed. As the airways swell, they also become narrower, making it harder for air to enter or exit your lungs.
There’s no cure for asthma, and researchers aren’t sure why asthma happens. What they do know is that the symptoms of asthma appear to be related to an overactive immune response to specific “triggers,” like:
Asthma is more common among people with a family history of the disease, and it also tends to happen more often in people who are obese.
In addition to breathing difficulties, people with asthma tend to have other symptoms, like coughing, wheezing, or shortness of breath. As inflammation occurs, the airways react by producing excess mucus, which also works to block your airways. Severe asthma attacks can be life-threatening.
COPD is a collection of lung diseases that become progressively worse over time. The two most common diseases included in COPD are emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
Emphysema happens when tiny air sacs inside the lungs are damaged. Your lungs become less elastic, making it hard for your lungs to fill and empty normally. Chronic bronchitis involves ongoing inflammation in your bronchial tubes, along with excess production of mucus. These symptoms cause airways to narrow and make it more difficult to breathe.
Like many chronic lung diseases, COPD is primarily caused by smoking. Continual or recurrent exposure to pollutants or indoor or outdoor lung irritants can also lead to COPD, and respiratory infections and genetics also play a role.
The most common symptoms associated with COPD include:
Symptoms may be mild at first, becoming worse over time. There is no cure for COPD, but symptoms can be managed with ongoing therapy.
Cancer happens when cells irregularly and rapidly divide, forming tumors that interfere with normal organ function and sap important nutrients. There are several types of lung cancer that form tumors in or around the lungs.
Lung cancer can affect your breathing in different ways. Sometimes, a tumor forms that crowds or “squeezes” parts of your lungs or airways, making it harder for your lungs to take in air. Tumors may press on your diaphragm, the large muscle that helps your lungs fill and empty, or they may affect your chest muscles.
Cancer can also be associated with inflammatory responses. Progressive inflammation can narrow your airways, interfere with lung function, and cause fluid to build up around your lungs, preventing them from expanding.
In addition to shortness of breath, people with lung cancer may have symptoms like:
For many people, shortness of breath is one of the earliest symptoms of lung cancer, and seeking medical care early is important for optimal outcomes.
Even though these conditions all affect the lungs, they each require a very different type of treatment to relieve your symptoms and protect your lungs. Dr. Seoane is skilled in diagnosing lung conditions and tailoring treatment to each patient’s needs. The key to achieving the best results is to seek treatment early, ideally at the first sign of symptoms.
If you have any unusual symptoms that affect your breathing or your lungs, don’t put off seeking care. Call 863-644-2204 or book an appointment online with Dr. Seoane today.