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What Are the Different Lung Inflammation Symptoms?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 03 September 2016
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Lung inflammation symptoms can include abnormal breath sounds, pain, chest tenderness, and coughing. A number of conditions can cause inflammation in the lungs and surrounding tissues including pneumonia, pleurisy, and cancers. If a patient reports symptoms, a medical provider may perform a physical examination, request medical imaging studies, and take a sputum sample for evaluation, depending on the symptoms. Treatment options can include rest, medications, fluids, and surgery to treat issues like cancers or necrotic tissue that is causing inflammation.

When the lungs become inflamed, the tissue is flooded with white blood cells and other agents of the immune system. They can cause swelling and a fluid buildup that interferes with lung function. The inflammation may be inside the lung or in the pleural space. Some conditions cause very distinctive symptoms that make them easy to diagnose, while others may require a careful workup.

Difficulty breathing, along with coughing, wheezing, or whistling sounds in the lungs, is a common symptom. Patients may struggle to fully inflate the lungs or could cough in an attempt to dislodge foreign particles or buildups of mucus. Other lung inflammation symptoms can include crackling or groaning while breathing. If these are not audible with the naked ear, a doctor may be able to hear them on a stethoscope.

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Patients can also develop chest tenderness which may make them reluctant to breathe deeply. Pleurisy, an inflammation in the pleural space, can cause a distinctive sharp, stabbing pain in the chest when patients breathe. These lung inflammation symptoms can help a doctor narrow down a cause of the problem, which can be important for a treatment plan. To be certain, the doctor may request scans of the lungs to look for tell-tale signs like buildups of fluid or clear evidence of irritation and thickening in the tissues around the lungs.

Other lung inflammation symptoms can include reduced appetite and accidental weight loss. Inflammation can depress the appetite, especially if it persists for an extended period of time, and may cause patients to lose interest in food and drop weight suddenly. This can be a concern for people who are already underweight, as they can be more at risk of complications if they rapidly lose more weight. These lung inflammation symptoms may give the patient a gaunt look, especially around the face, if the patient doesn’t receive treatment early to control the appetite and stabilize the weight loss.

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