Lung parenchyma is the medical term used to describe the actual functioning parts of a human or animal lung. It includes the alveolar walls as well as the blood vessels and the bronchi. If any part of the parenchyma becomes damaged or diseased, a person’s life may be at risk. Other organs in the body also contain parenchyma and are susceptible to various diseases and conditions that may prove to be fatal if not diagnosed in a timely fashion and promptly treated.
Upon first hearing the term, some people think of lung parenchyma as primarily relating to the tissue lining the lung’s air pockets or sacs, known as the alveoli. Lung parenchyma, however, more extensively involves the bronchioles or lung airways, as well as key blood vessels located inside of the lungs. Parenchyma in the lungs essentially includes all systems and tissues pertinent to the lung’s healthy functioning.
All healthy humans and animals have lung parenchyma. In fact, parenchyma, defined as the parts which make an organ function, is also present in other parts of the body, such as the liver, spleen, brain and heart. Parenchyma simply refers to any part of an organ that is responsible for that organ working properly.
When testing for possible disease or infection, doctors examine all areas of the lung in search of irregularities. Not to be confused with lung parenchyma, people with lung parenchymal disease often suffer from conditions such as sarcoidoisis, characterized by tissue swelling and the formation of lumps in the tissue. Some people who are affected with sarcoidoisis located in the lung’s parenchyma fully recover after receiving adequate medical treatment, but for other people such a condition may lead to chronic health problems or may even lead to death. While sarcoidoisis does occur in the parenchyma, it may also occur in other organs, such as the heart and the brain, and its origins are often unknown. Other conditions commonly found in the lung’s parenchyma are emphysema and cancer.
Diseased or infected lung parenchyma can severely inhibit a person’s breathing and quality of life. It is possible for people to have sustained damage to the lung’s parenchyma or to be affected by disease without immediately realizing that the lungs have been jeopardized. When symptoms do arise, many report feeling a shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, a racing heart and chest pain. Health experts recommend that people experiencing these or similar symptoms seek immediate medical attention.