How is Inflammation of the Lungs Treated?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
The human respiratory system.
The human respiratory system.

Doctors treat inflammation of the lungs with a variety of medications, along with measures like rest and drainage, if the lungs fill with fluid as a result of the ongoing irritation. Patients can experience inflammation in the lungs and airways in association with underlying disease like infection. It is important to receive treatment, because lung damage can occur and it may put a person at increased risk of serious illness in the future. Care can often take place at home, although in severe cases, patients will need to stay in a hospital.

Medication dispensed in a rescue inhaler can be used in an emergency situation when lung inflammation narrows airways.
Medication dispensed in a rescue inhaler can be used in an emergency situation when lung inflammation narrows airways.

Inflammation of the lungs occurs when the immune system responds to a threat like an infection, irritation by pollutants, or injury. A series of chemical reactions floods the area with immune cells. The lungs start to swell and fluid builds up. Patients may experience pain and tightness, and can have difficulty breathing. Crackling, wet sounds in the lungs are audible when a doctor performs an examination, and patients may have other symptoms associated with the cause.

Inflammation of the lungs can be the result of underlying infections and disease.
Inflammation of the lungs can be the result of underlying infections and disease.

Medications for inflammation of the lungs often start with anti-inflammatory drugs. These will suppress the inflammation, making the patient more comfortable. The doctor may also prescribe antibiotic, antifungal, or antiviral medication to treat an underlying infection. While in treatment, the patient needs to receive adequate hydration and a good diet to stay healthy. Sometimes, using a steam tent or vaporizer can help patients breathe more easily by increasing humidity.

In some cases, the bronchial passages narrow and close as a result of inflammation of the lungs. A doctor may prescribe a medication inhaler for the patient to use to open the airways. The patient can use a rescue inhaler as needed in crisis, as well as another inhaler to suppress inflammation and maintain airway health. Resting is also part of the treatment, as heavy activity can make it harder for patients to heal. The doctor may also recommend the use of expectorant drugs so patients can bring up fluid more easily when they cough.

Sometimes, inflammation of the lungs leads to a buildup of fluid in or around the lungs. Patients can drown on their own secretions or develop lung collapse, two very dangerous complications. If this situation occurs, a doctor may need to perform a procedure to drain the lungs so the patient will be more comfortable. The patient may need to stay in a hospital for monitoring. Nurses will check the patient to see if the lungs are filling again and to provide supportive care.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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    • The human respiratory system.
      The human respiratory system.
    • Medication dispensed in a rescue inhaler can be used in an emergency situation when lung inflammation narrows airways.
      Medication dispensed in a rescue inhaler can be used in an emergency situation when lung inflammation narrows airways.
    • Inflammation of the lungs can be the result of underlying infections and disease.
      Inflammation of the lungs can be the result of underlying infections and disease.