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What is Lung Inflammation?

By Susan Grindstaff
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Inflammation of the lungs is a condition that results when the immune system reacts to infection, irritation, or injury. The inflammation occurs to provide protection to the lining of the lungs. Many different illnesses can lead to lung inflammation, including influenza, pneumonia, and bronchitis. Lung tissue that is inflamed is typically swollen and red and may cause breathing to be painful and labored.

Asthma is a condition that affects more than 20 million people in the United States alone. It is considered one of the most common causes of lung inflammation. Sometimes an asthma attack can escalate into a life-threatening condition, but this is more rare. With proper treatment, most asthma sufferers are able to keep their condition under control. Treatment for asthma usually involves the use of respiratory inhalants that open the bronchial tubes and ease breathing.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is another common cause of lung inflammation. COPD may begin as a mild irritation, but since it is a progressive disease, it worsens over time. Many people who suffer from COPD may eventually have to resort to portable respirators to get enough oxygen into their lungs. COPD is sometimes fatal, and in the US, it is considered the fourth most common cause of death. Emphysema, which is often caused by cigarette smoking, is a type of COPD.

Pneumonia can cause serious lung inflammation, resulting from viral, fungal, or bacterial infection. In some cases, pneumonia can also result from overexposure to environmental toxins. In some cases, pneumonia can be deadly, but with early treatment it can usually be cured. In many cases, the overall health of the patient is directly related to the outcome of treatment.

Pneumonia can often last for weeks, and can be very debilitating. Death resulting from pneumonia is more common in elderly people or people who have other underlying health conditions. Pneumonia is typically treated with antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications. Most cases of pneumonia require hospital admittance.

Lung inflammation can often result from non-serious conditions such as chest colds or allergies. This type of inflammation often improves without the need for prescription medications. If lung inflammation is accompanied by fever or vomiting, it could indicate influenza, a viral infection which can sometimes be life threatening. Those who have lung inflammation that is accompanied by fever should probably see a doctor. The doctor will typically use a swab test to determine if the lung inflammation is associated with influenza.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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