Terms of Pulmonary Fibrosis, Cystic Fibrosis & Lung Cancer

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  • 0:02 Pulmonary Fibrosis
  • 1:29 Cystic Fibrosis
  • 3:16 Lung Cancer
  • 3:59 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson defines and briefly discusses three main lung disorders: pulmonary fibrosis, cystic fibrosis, and lung cancer. You'll learn how about these disorders affect on the lungs and their diagnosis.

Pulmonary Fibrosis

This lesson is going to define and briefly discuss three different conditions that relate to the lungs: lung cancer, cystic fibrosis, and pulmonary fibrosis. They may seem a bit all over the place, but one thing that ties them together in this lesson is the concept of pulmonary fibrosis. Pulmonary fibrosis is literally the scarring of the lungs, where 'pulmonary' references the lungs and 'fibrosis' is a term that implies the scarring of something as a result of injury.

Have you ever had an injury to your skin that resulted in a scar? Do you know why a scar formed? Well, when the skin gets damaged seriously enough, the body heals itself with a much tougher band of tissue, that of scar tissue. This band of tissue is your body's way of forming a tougher layer of protection against re-injury.

The problem is, because it's tough, scar tissue is less elastic than normal tissue, be it of the skin or the lungs. That means scar tissue is like an old rubber band as opposed to a new one. It's less stretchy.

When something like autoimmune disease, infections, dust, or other substances damage your lungs to the point of scarring them, that's a problem. It's a problem because your lungs rely on being elastic in order to breathe. If they're filled with scar tissue, they become less elastic, and it becomes increasingly difficult to breathe when pulmonary fibrosis occurs.

Cystic Fibrosis

Scar tissue can form in the lungs of people afflicted with cystic fibrosis, an autosomal recessive genetic disease that affects proper exocrine gland function, resulting in multiple organ dysfunction, including that of the lungs, pancreas, liver, and intestines. In this disorder, the normal fluid and mucus found in the lungs becomes really thick and gooey, and this causes some serious problems.

Let me paint a picture for you. Have you ever bought a squeeze bottle full of honey and forgotten about it? You probably noticed that this honey, over time, became crystallized. This means it became stickier and more viscous than even normal honey! It's almost impossible to squeeze this kind of uber-thick and uber-sticky honey out of the bottle.

Well, in the lungs, the normal mucus becomes sticky and gooey in people with cystic fibrosis. Like getting that crystallized honey out of the bottle, getting sticky mucus out of the lungs becomes difficult for the body. And so, this mucus clogs the airways instead, traps bacteria like a sticky flytrap catches flies, and predisposes a person to infections as a result.

These infections lead to inflammation in the lungs. The inflammation tries to combat the resultant infection, but it also damages the lungs themselves in the process, resulting in scar tissue formation as a consequence, much like skin that's constantly cut open forms scar tissue.

To help treat cystic fibrosis, people are given antibiotics to control any lung infections. Chest percussions are also performed to help remove mucus from the lungs and postural drainage is performed to allow for gravity to help drain fluid from the lungs.

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