Lung Disease

About Lung Disease

Nodules (spots) in the lungs can be a common medical problem but not all lung nodules are cancerous. Some lung spots can be simply caused by where you live. There are many forms of lung diseases today that are non-cancerous yet they may affect your ability to breathe, cause scarring of your lung tissue or trigger other problems throughout your body if not treated.

Many smokers and non-smokers are at risk for developing non-cancerous spots in the lungs as well as cancerous nodules.3

Described below are some of the more common forms of lung disease that potentially can cause nodules deep in the lungs as well as inflamed lymph nodes.

Histoplasmosis

Histoplasmosis is a lung disease that is transmitted through airborne spores breathed into the lungs, especially if individuals work around certain damp soils that are rich in organic materials. The spores of the fungus Histoplasma capsulatum are the cause of histoplasmosis. The spores float into the air when the soil is disturbed and easily enter the lungs. This may lead to inflammation of the lymph nodes and scarring, which can appear as a lung nodule on a CT scan.

Sarcoidosis

Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory disease that starts in the lungs, but can affect any organ in the body. The exact cause of sarcoidosis is unknown but medical experts believe it may be caused when the immune system overreacts to an unknown toxin, drug or pathogen that enters the body.

Pneumonia

Pneumonia is a serious infection and/or inflammation of the lungs. The air sacs in the lungs fill with pus and other liquid. Oxygen has trouble reaching your blood. If there is too little oxygen in the blood, your body cells can’t work properly. Because of this and spreading infection through the body pneumonia can cause death.

Until 1936, pneumonia was the No. 1 cause of death in the U.S. Since then, the use of antibiotics brought it under control. In 2004, pneumonia and influenza combined ranked as the eighth leading cause of death.

Pneumonia affects your lungs in two ways. Lobar pneumonia affects a section (lobe) of a lung. Bronchial pneumonia (or bronchopneumonia) affects patches throughout both lungs.

Pneumonia is not a single disease. It can have over 30 different causes. There are five main causes of pneumonia:

  • Bacteria
  • Viruses
  • Mycoplasmas
  • Other infectious agents, such as fungi – including pneumocystis
  • Various chemicals

Valley Fever

Valley fever is caused by fungi in the soil. The fungi that cause valley fever can be stirred into the air by anything that disrupts the soil, such as farming, construction and wind. The fungi can then be breathed into the lungs. Valley fever is a form of coccidioidomycosis (kok-sid-e-oi-doh-mi-KOH-sis), or cocci (KOK-si) infection. It can cause fever, chest pain and coughing, among other signs and symptoms.

More than half of those who inhale the valley fever fungi have few, if any, problems. But some, especially pregnant women, people with weakened immune systems, and those of Asian, Hispanic and African descent, may develop a more serious form of coccidioidomycosis infection.

Mild cases of valley fever usually go away on their own. In more severe coccidioidomycosis infections, doctors prescribe antifungal medications that can treat the underlying infection.

Histoplasmosis - lung disease