For the past several years, lung injuries have remained one of the most common cases to be noted in the emergency units of several hospitals. There are different types of lung injuries that require medical attention as soon as possible. There are different ways by which a person may end up with a lung injury. It can be an accident, pollution or any other cause, and understanding the reason for the injury is very important in extending the right treatment for the person.
Lung injuries are categorized into two main types – direct injuries and indirect injuries. Injuries that directly affect the organ like chemicals and infections are grouped as direct injuries while an injury resulting from another health condition is referred to as indirect injury.
Some of the common causes of direct injury include:
- Infections like pneumonia and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)
- Inhaling salt water as in drowning
- Breathing in harmful chemicals
- Puncturing and other tissue wounds
Indirect lung injury is mostly caused by:
- Bacterial infection of blood, called sepsis
- Severe bleeding
- Multiple blood transfusions
- Trauma or severe blow to the chest or head
- Acute pancreatitis
- Overdose of certain drugs
When left untreated, lung injuries may result in complications and other life threatening conditions, like a collapsed lung or acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Collapsed lung is caused when the exhaled air escapes into the chest region surrounding the lungs. This causes the lungs to collapse within the chest. It usually results from infection, cancer, and other medical conditions and also by the puncture of the organ by conditions, like a broken rib.
ARDS may be caused when the capillaries leak too much fluid into the alveoli. This may prevent the filling of lungs and respiratory system will fail completely. As the lungs do not get filled with air, the oxygen content in the blood reduces considerably. Severe injury, infections and illnesses may result in ARDS.
The most common symptoms of lung injury include:
- Increased respiratory rate
- Difficulty to get enough air
- Low blood pressure
- Bluish colored lips and skin
Conditions like collapsed lungs and ARDS may require immediate medical attention.
- Lung injuries, when left untreated, can result in further medical complications that can be life threatening.
- One should consult with a doctor if he or she sustains a lung injury.