Lung Injury – Causes and Disorders

Lung injury can occur in various ways. A vehicle accident can cause dangerous injuries even the lungs can be punctured, or the lungs injured by inhaling dangerous chemicals. Pulmonary injury can even occur when hospitalized due to infection or when a ventilator is attached. Understanding several lung injury conditions can help you overcome various causes of lung injury.

Causes of Lung Injury

Aside from accidents and treatments, there are two main types of lung injuries, namely direct and indirect causes.

Direct lung injury:

  • Direct lung injury is caused by infections, chemicals, and trauma that directly affect the lungs
  • Pneumonia, severe lung infections
  • Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), a type of pneumonia
  • Lung aspiration, breathing vomit or sea water
  • Inhalation of smoke or hazardous chemicals
  • Lung trauma, such as stab wounds
  • Ventilator, a machine that helps people breathe while in the ICU, but can sometimes hurt the lungs

Indirect lung injury:

  • Sepsis, where bacteria infect blood flow
  • Severe bleeding from injury or blood transfusion
  • Major trauma, such as a hard blow to the chest or head during a car accident
  • Acute pancreatitis, a condition in which the pancreas (the gland that releases enzymes and hormones) becomes irritated or infected
  • Fat embolism, a condition in which arterial fat blocks, which is the result of physical injury such as a fracture
  • Drug overdose
  • Severe burns
  • Lung injury can cause lung collapse or develop into acute respiratory distress syndrome, two conditions that are potentially life threatening.

Lung Disorders

When the chest muscles and diaphragm contract to expand the chest cavity, the lungs become inflated. Like a balloon, the lungs stretch as they expand. When you exhale, the chest muscles and diaphragm are relaxed and like a balloon that has been compressed, then the lungs shrink. But if there is air coming out of the lungs to the chest, the lungs can shrink in the chest cavity. This can occur due to rupture of the weak points of the lungs, either due to a medical condition, infection, or cancer, or it can be caused by trauma to the lung prick and from a broken rib then piercing the lungs.

There is another shrinking lung condition called “atelectasis”, where the lungs shrink because the connective tissue is damaged but unlike lung puncture trauma, no air escapes into the chest cavity. In contrast, the air sacs in the lungs do not expand enough to take breath. This can be caused by mucus or tumors blocking the airway. Or more generally it can occur after surgery or by lying motionless for a long time.

To help prevent atelectasis, stop smoking at least six to eight weeks before surgery. Breathe deeply and cough often after surgery. Also follow instructions about moving, exercising, and changing positions after surgery.

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