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Pulmonary infections, or lung infections, are some of the most common medical conditions in the world. There are many types of pulmonary infections, with some being acute and others chronic.  

Common Types of Pulmonary Infections 

Some of the most common pulmonary infections are: 

  • Empyema – The presence of pus within the pleural space between the lungs and chest wall. 
  • Lung abscess – A pus-filled cavity within the lung surrounded by inflamed tissue. 
  • Tuberculosis – A bacterial infection of the lungs. 
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) – Causes obstructed airflow from the lungs. 
  • Cystic fibrosis – An inherited disorder that causes persistent lung infections.  
  • Asthma – Marked by spasms of the bronchi of the lungs and narrow airways. 

What Are the Causes of Pulmonary Infections? 

Because pulmonary infections consist of a broad range of conditions, the causes will most often vary from one type to another. Some of these infections are caused by viruses or other conditions, such as pneumonia, while others, like COPD, are primarily linked to environmental/lifestyle factors like smoking. Some pulmonary infections are inherited and present at birth and thus cannot be prevented, including cystic fibrosis.  

Understanding the Signs of Pulmonary Infections 

While the exact symptoms of pulmonary infections can vary, there are a few common signs to look out for. These include: 

  • Difficulty breathing, especially during light exercise or regular activities 
  • Chest tightness 
  • Sharp chest pain 
  • Body aches (myalgia) 
  • Wheezing 
  • Fatigue 

Another common symptom of pulmonary infections is a crackling sound in the base of the lungs that can be heard by a doctor using a stethoscope.  

How Are Pulmonary Infections Diagnosed? 

To diagnose pulmonary infections, a healthcare professional will first discuss a patient’s medical history and symptoms before ordering additional testing to pinpoint the exact condition.  

Some tests that can lead to a pulmonary infection diagnosis are: 

  • Imaging scans, including a chest X-ray or CT scan 
  • Spirometry (tool that measures air intake) 
  • Pulse oximetry to check blood oxygen levels
  • A throat swab 
  • A blood culture 

Treating Pulmonary Infections 

The treatment for each pulmonary infection will vary based on the cause, symptoms and whether or not the condition is curable. For example, bacterial lung infections will usually require antibiotics. Chronic conditions such as COPD can require lifestyle changes, medication and even surgery in severe cases. 

If you suspect that you have a pulmonary infection, it is always best to visit your healthcare provider as soon as possible to seek a proper diagnosis. The pulmonary specialists at Tampa General Hospital are trained and experienced in recognizing these conditions and can create a personalized treatment plan for each patient.