The lungs are two of the body’s most vital organs. They provide the space for the exchange of gases to occur because every cell in the body needs oxygen in order to live. But the air we breathe in does not only contain oxygen and other gases; there are germs floating around too which, when inhaled, can cause various lung diseases. Medicine for cough and cold can help ease the discomfort caused by a common cold but there are diseases that need more than cough suppressants and decongestants. Two of these diseases are bronchitis and tuberculosis.
Bronchitis is an inflammation of the lining of the bronchial tubes, which carry air to the lungs. As the irritated membrane swells and becomes thickens, it narrows or shuts off the tiny airways in the lungs, resulting in coughing spells that may be accompanied by phlegm and breathlessness. The disease comes in two forms: acute and chronic bronchitis. Acute bronchitis is more common and usually caused by a viral infection while chronic bronchitis is a cough that persists for two to three months or until two years. Smoking is the most common cause of chronic bronchitis.
Tuberculosis is an infectious disease usually caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The disease can be transmitted through saliva splashes when the patient is coughing. The classic symptoms of active tuberculosis are chronic coughs with blood-containing sputum, fever, night sweats and weight loss. Tuberculosis generally affects the lungs but it can also affect the other parts of the body because the infection can spread via blood from the lungs to all organs in the body.
Bronchitis may be avoided by not smoking, staying away or reducing time around things that can cause irritation in the nose, throat and lungs (dust and animal dander, for example), washing hands often, and maintaining a healthy diet to boost the immune system. Rest is advisable especially if the person has contracted a cold, as well as taking the medicine exactly how the doctor ordered.
On the other hand, tuberculosis may be prevented by not exposing one’s self to people with active TB. Getting a BCG (Bacille Calmette-Guerin) vaccine is also recommended to help prevent the spread of TB, especially among small children. Latent TB (a type of TB where the bacteria are trapped in tiny capsules produced by the immune system to prevent further complications) and active TB both require immediate medical supervision so early diagnosis and treatment is advised to prevent deterioration of the disease and spread of the infection.
Both diseases are potentially dangerous especially if left untreated. Acute bronchitis, if not tended to, can progress to pneumonia and chronic bronchitis, especially in people with suppressed immune systems. Chronic bronchitis is associated with long-term constriction of airways, bacterial infection and other diseases like asthma, emphysema, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which can eventually lead to death.
Tuberculosis, especially if it is active, can cause serious damages in some areas in the lungs, which may bleed and may become infected with bacteria. The patient will also experience difficulty breathing because of the blocked airways and a hole may form between the nearby airways in the lungs. It can also lead to death, if the patient didn’t receive proper medical care.
The body is made up of organ systems, meaning it consists of several organs that work together to ensure that the body is working properly. If one, like the lungs, fails, then everything will slowly deteriorate. Without the lungs, oxygen will not go to the blood. Without oxygen, the organs including the heart will die. Caring for the lungs will not just benefit the said organ; but the entire body as well.