Lung Disease Treatments Lung Disease Treatments
Learn about treatments for lung diseases and conditions.
Oxygen therapy is a treatment that delivers oxygen for you to breathe. You can receive oxygen therapy from tubes resting in your nose, a face mask, or a tube placed in your trachea (windpipe). You may need oxygen therapy if you have a condition that causes your blood oxygen levels to be too low.
Oxygen therapy can be given for a short or long period of time in the hospital, in another medical setting, or at home. Oxygen poses a fire risk, so you should never smoke or use flammable materials when using oxygen. You may experience side effects from this treatment, such as a dry or bloody nose, tiredness, and morning headaches. Oxygen therapy is generally safe.
Pulmonary rehabilitation is a supervised program that includes exercise training, health education, and breathing techniques for people who have certain lung conditions, have lung problems due to other conditions, or have had a lung transplant. Your provider may talk to you about pulmonary rehabilitation to help you breathe easier and improve your quality of life.
Thoracentesis is a procedure to remove excess fluid from the pleural space (the space between your lungs and your chest wall) to help you breathe easier.
The procedure is performed in a doctor’s office or hospital and usually takes 10 to 15 minutes, unless you have a lot of fluid in your pleural space. For the procedure, most patients sit quietly on the edge of a chair or bed with their head and arms resting on a table. After cleaning the skin around the area where the needle will be inserted, your doctor will inject numbing medicine. A needle is then inserted between your ribs into the pleural space. As your doctor draws out excess fluid from around your lungs, you may feel like coughing or have chest pain. The needle will be removed, and a small bandage will be applied to the site.
After the procedure, the fluid that was removed from your chest will be sent for laboratory testing to determine why you have excess fluid in the pleural space, called pleural effusion, and to help plan your treatment. Your doctor may order a chest X-ray to check for lung problems. Possible complications of thoracentesis include a pneumothorax (a collapsed lung), pain, bleeding, bruising, or infection.
A tracheostomy is a surgically made hole that goes through the front of your neck into your trachea, or windpipe. Then a breathing tube is placed through the hole to help you breathe. A tracheostomy may be used to help people who need to be on ventilators for more than a few weeks or who have conditions that block the upper airways.
During your procedure, the surgeon or other healthcare professional will make a cut through the lower front part of your neck and then cut into your windpipe. After the tracheostomy tube is inserted and placed in the windpipe, stitches, surgical tape, or a Velcro band are used to hold the tube in place. After getting the tracheostomy, you may have difficulty talking. A speech therapist can help you regain normal swallowing ability and use your voice to speak clearly. Your breathing tube will be removed when you no longer need it. The hole usually closes on its own, but surgery can close the hole if needed.
Some people have complications soon after the procedure, including:
- Air trapped under the skin
- Pneumothorax (collapsed lung)
Over time, complications may include windpipe scarring or a fistula, an inappropriate connection between the windpipe and esophagus — the tube that carries food and liquids from your mouth to your stomach — that causes food and saliva to enter your lungs. Also, the tube may slip or fall out of place. Proper care and handling of the tracheostomy, the tubes, and other related supplies can help lower risks of complications.
A lung transplant is surgery to remove a diseased lung and replace it with a healthy lung. Lung transplants are used to improve quality of life and extend the lifespan for people who have severe or advanced chronic lung conditions that do not respond to other treatments.
During a lung transplant, you will have general anesthesia and will not be awake for the surgery. A surgeon will open your chest, cut the main airway and blood vessels, and remove your diseased lung. The surgeon will connect the healthy donor lung, reconnect the blood vessels, and close your chest. After the surgery, you will recover in the hospital for 1 to 3 weeks. After leaving the hospital, you will visit your doctor often to make sure that you are recovering well.
To help prevent your body from rejecting the new lung, you will need to take medicines for the rest of your life that suppress your . Practicing good hygiene, getting annual vaccines, and adopting healthy lifestyle choices such as heart-healthy eating and not smoking are very important.