Pulmonary Bullous Disease

Written by william norman
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Pulmonary Bullous Disease
Pulmonary bullous disease impairs lung function. (thorax x-ray of the lungs image by JoLin from Fotolia.com)

Pulmonary bullous disease involves the presence of what the Mayo Clinic calls "holes" in the normal lung tissue. These air sacs, also called bullae, usually occur in conjunction with emphysema--a debilitating lung condition characterised by wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, a tight feeling in the chest and other signs of respiratory distress. Bullae take the place of healthy tissue destroyed by emphysema, reducing the lungs' efficiency.

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Definition

The term "bullous" refers to enlarged air sacs in the lungs known as bullae, according to Net Doctor UK. These thin-walled sacs appear at the ends of the lungs' air intake passages and interfere with the lungs' normal expansion and contraction, impairing the body's ability to transfer oxygen from the lungs to the bloodstream for circulation throughout the body.

Causes

Pulmonary bullous disease occurs in association with emphysema, a gradual loss of elasticity in the lungs characterised by the enlargement of the internal air spaces. This condition causes the lungs to lose their efficiency in expanding and contracting. Fibrosis, another ailment associated with emphysema, can reduce the lungs' elasticity even further and contribute to the destruction of normal lung tissue, encouraging the development of bullae. Smoking, drug inhalation, environmental toxins or inherited diseases can all lead to bullae formation, according to CTS Net.

Diagnosis

Patients previously diagnosed with emphysema or fibrosis of the lungs present a risk of pulmonary bullous disease. Doctors use CT image scans of the chest to detect the presence of bullae in the lungs, looking for telltale signs--such as compression of surrounding lung tissues. CTS Net adds that complications--such as infections or pneumothorax--can also indicate bullous disease.

Treatment

According to Net Doctor UK, patients with pulmonary bullous disease typically receive drug therapy, often through inhalant medications. Salamol, an asthma medicine, relaxes the airways to allow more oxygen to enter, as does ipratropium bromide--a drug also used to treat chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Patients can also benefit from steroid treatments. In some cases surgical procedures can improve symptoms. CTS Notes lists stapling and suturing of the bullae as two effective surgical methods.

Considerations

Net Doctor UK advises patients suffering from pulmonary bullous disease to give up cigarette smoking or other risky behaviours while pursuing an aggressive treatment regimen if they expect to improve their condition. Individual symptoms will dictate treatment strategies. A patient with a chronic cough, for instance, will respond better to drug treatments than to surgery. Patients suffering from dangerous complications, such as infections, on the other hand, may require surgical intervention, according to CTS Notes.

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