For a healthy person who does not smoke, who exercises regularly and who lives a moderately healthy lifestyle, chest pain, if and when it occurs, can be perplexing. Causes of chest pain can vary from person to person and can be the result of minor problems such as indigestion or heartburn to more serious conditions such as a heart attack or a pulmonary problem such as an embolism. If an individual has unexplained chest pain that lasts for more than a few minutes and is accompanied by shortness of breath, it is advised to seek medical attention immediately.
X-rays and CT scans—also called CAT scanning—are non-invasive medical exams that help doctors to diagnose certain medical conditions. Doctors will usually start with an x-ray to view the inside of the chest, including the lungs and internal organs. If the x-ray comes back abnormal or inconclusive, a CT scan will generally be ordered as the next step to try and diagnose the condition or abnormality. CT scans use special x-ray equipment to produce multiple images of the inside of the body. From this, the internal organs, bones, tissue and vessels can be viewed with better clarity leading to an accurate diagnosis.
Tuberculosis (also called TB) is an infectious lung disease caused by bacteria. It most commonly affects the lungs, but it can involve any organ located in the human body. In earlier years, patients diagnosed with tuberculosis would die a slow death; today, though rarely diagnosed, the disease can be treated with antibiotics.
A solitary pulmonary nodule is a lesion that represents itself as a round or oval spot on the lungs. The spot can only be seen with an x-ray or CT scan. If a spot like this is found on the lungs, a biopsy will most likely be ordered so that cancer or a malignancy can be ruled out. In half of the cases, these nodules will be benign.
Respiratory failure occurs when the lungs fail to work; this condition is most often always a medical emergency. Typically, when a person goes into respiratory failure, it means that they have very low oxygen levels or very high carbon dioxide levels in the lungs. A blood test will need to be administered to detect which of these are occurring.
There are two main sets of blood vessels that reside in the human body that are responsible for carrying blood from the heart to the body. One set pumps blood to the lungs from the right side of the heart, the other set pumps blood from the left side of the heart into the rest of the body. Pulmonary hypertension will occur when the right side of the heart has to work harder in order to pump this necessary blood into the lungs. This stress that is placed on the heart can lead to an enlarged heart leading to fluid build-up in other tissues, organs and in other parts of the body such as the legs.
A pulmonary infection is a general term given to a number of lung-related infections that occur when parasites, viruses or bacteria enter the lungs impairing the regular defense mechanisms of the organs. Pneumonia, bronchitis and influenza are examples of pulmonary infections and account for a number of illness and deaths across the world.