Lung Disease

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In addition to lung cancer and tuberculosis there are three other important diseases that can affect the lungs. These are asthma, emphysema and fibrosis; the last can occur as a result of cystic fibrosis or other lung diseases.


Asthma is a common childhood ailment, affecting at least one in ten children, and a large number of adults. The number of asthma cases has risen dramatically in recent years, fuelling speculation that an increase in air pollution is to blame.

Put simply, asthma is a difficulty in breathing caused when the smooth miscles of the bronchioles contract, narrowing the airways that lead to the alveoli. Asthma sufferers then find it hard to breathe and have to make far more effort to deliver a normal amount of air to the lungs.

Many factors can cause asthma, including an allergic reaction (reation of the immune system to a substance that, in non-sufferers, has no effect_. Common allergens are house dust mite faeces, fur, feathers and pollen.

Treating Asthma

Several approaches are used together to hepl control asthma. Adoctor's first priority with all but very young children is to explain what is happening inside the lungs. Sufferers will be less frightened and can come to terms with their problem. The worst physical effects of the condition are then controlled by a combination of drugs and prevention.

Generally, two types of drugs are prescribed to asthma sufferers: bronchodilators and steroids. Bronchodilators give relief from chest tightness and wheezing because they contain chemicals chich relax the bronchiole walls. Many astha sufferers carry a reliever inhaler around with them. Itcontains salbutamol or terbutaline, which both act as bronchodilators to relieve the feeling of being 'tight-chested'. This is very useful in the treatment of attacks and is safe to use frequently.

Many asthma sufferers also use a preventive inhaler that contains steroids. Steroids such as BecotideTM act by reducing…


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