Pulmonology (Latin pulmo, logos – “the doctrine of the lungs”) is a branch of medicine that studies diseases of the respiratory system: lungs, pleura, trachea and bronchi, clinical manifestations of diseases, specifics of diagnosis, methods of treatment and prevention. The respiratory system includes not only the airways, but also the central nervous system, the chest (sternocostal frame, intercostal muscles, diaphragm), the circulatory system in the lungs. Therefore, in a broad sense, the field of competence of pulmonology also includes pathology of other organs of the thoracic cavity, morphologically and functionally related to the respiratory organs.
The organs that pulmonology studies and treats, in addition to the lungs, include: vascular and nerve bundles of the lung root, lymph nodes, thymus gland, diaphragm, etc. The main function of the respiratory system is to provide gas exchange in the lungs.
Pulmonologists are engaged in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of lung and bronchial diseases. Surgical treatment of diseases of the lungs and other organs of the thoracic cavity is carried out by thoracic surgeons (from Greek. thorax – chest).
Pulmonology has close ties with such branches of medicine as cardiology, allergology, otolaryngology, intensive care and intensive care, oncology, transplantology.
Within the framework of pulmonology, an independent direction is distinguished – phthisiology, the field of study of which is the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis. The problem of the prevalence of tuberculosis is one of the most urgent in modern medicine.
Pulmonology deals with the treatment of the following types of pathological processes:
- chronic nonspecific (obstructive) lung diseases (chronic bronchitis, emphysema, pneumosclerosis, pulmonary hypertension, chronic pulmonary heart, bronchiectatic disease, chronic pneumonia, bronchial asthma);
- destructive lung diseases (lung abscess, lung gangrene);
- diseases of the pleural cavity (pleurisy, spontaneous pneumothorax, hemothorax, chylothorax);
- traumatic chest injuries;
- benign tumors of the lungs and pleura, lung and pleural cancers, mediastinal tumors;
- acute inflammatory diseases of the respiratory system (tracheitis, pneumonia, bronchitis);
- emergency conditions causing acute respiratory failure (respiratory distress syndrome (shock lung), pulmonary embolism, asthmatic status);
- systemic diseases with disseminated processes in the lungs (cystic fibrosis, fibrosing alveolitis, sarcoidosis, etc.);
- congenital and acquired malformations of the lungs, trachea and bronchi.
Many respiratory diseases have a severe and prolonged course, leading to serious health consequences, shorten the duration and reduce the quality of life of patients.
Pulmonology has acquired special significance in modern medical science. Bronchial and lung diseases occupy leading positions in modern society, their share in the total morbidity of the population varies from 41% to 53%.
The rapid deterioration of the environmental situation, an increase in the level of injuries accompanied by damage to the chest and chest cavity organs, the growth of oncological diseases of the respiratory system, stress factor, occupational hazards contribute to the steady growth and rejuvenation of lung diseases.
An appeal to a pulmonologist usually occurs when characteristic symptoms of lung diseases appear: dry or wet cough, shortness of breath at rest or during physical exertion, attacks of suffocation, chest pain, increased body temperature. Lung diseases are often accidental findings during X-ray examination.
It is possible to suspect a particular respiratory disease already on the basis of complaints and auscultative picture of the lungs. The necessary diagnostic studies to clarify the nature of lung pathology are chest radiography, data on the function of external respiration, bronchoscopy, bronchography, computed tomography of the lungs, angiopulmonography. Of the laboratory methods for diagnosing lung diseases, the study of sputum for cytology, microbial flora, and atypical cells is of the greatest importance.
Treatment of lung diseases, depending on their nature, can be both conservative and surgical. Conservative measures in the treatment of lung and bronchial diseases are aimed at diluting sputum, reducing its amount and facilitating evacuation from the bronchial tree, bronchial dilatation, relieving bronchial muscle spasm, removing the inflammatory process in the bronchopulmonary system, normalizing gas exchange in the lung tissue.
Surgical treatment of diseases of the lungs and other organs of the thoracic cavity in many cases is an emergency measure to eliminate dangerous, life-threatening conditions. Planned surgical treatment of lung diseases is carried out after a detailed examination and the impossibility of conservative treatment of the disease.
The simplest and most effective measures for the prevention of lung diseases are quitting smoking and undergoing an examination by a pulmonologist once a year.
The Medical Directory of Diseases on the website “Medic Journal” presents respiratory diseases in more detail.