Respiratory Medicine – Farrer Park Hospital
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What is Respiratory Medicine?
​Respiratory medicine, also known as pulmonology, is a sub-specialty of internal medicine that focuses on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disorders and diseases affecting the lungs and respiratory tract which comprises the nose and throat. Because of the variety of clinical problems encountered, respiratory medicine specialists require knowledge of internal medicine and other specialties for effective treatment.
Conditions
During an asthma attack, the airways you use to breathe become narrower and less air flows to the lungs, causing symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, chest tightness and difficulty in breathing.
 
Bronchiectasis
This condition may arise from infections that damage the large bronchial airways connecting the windpipe to the lungs. The bronchial tubes become enlarged or stretched, sometimes with small pockets of pus where infection develops. A person may be born with bronchiectasis or may acquire it later in life, usually as a result of inhaling a foreign object or due to recurrent lung infections. It can be treated with antibiotics and chest physiotherapy.
 
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
This is most often caused by chronic smoking. Patients are very often in the early part of the illness. They often present with breathlessness on exertion. As the condition is chronic, the patients often get used to the illness until it is very far advanced. In severe cases, patients often have breathlessness even at rest.
 
Interstitial lung disease
This is a general term that includes a long list of chronic lung disorders. Though symptoms vary depending on the specific type, breathlessness and a dry cough are common to many of these disorders. It usually begins with inflammation of the deep lung tissues and eventually results in scarring of the air sacs and the interstitium which is the area in and around the small blood vessels and air sacs where the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide takes place. This scarring causes the normally-elastic tissues of the lungs to stiffen, which interferes with normal breathing and can make it difficult to perform routine activities without getting out of breath.
 
Sarcoidosis
This is an inflammatory disease, where tiny lumps of immune cells grow and clump together in organs, affecting how these organs function. Sarcoidosis usually starts in the lungs or lymph nodes, but it may eventually affect other organs. The course of the disease varies greatly, from a mild condition that gradually gets better on its own to a severe and progressive disease that causes permanent damage to organs such as the heart and liver. Symptoms could include fever, swollen lymph nodes, persistent dry cough, breathing difficulties,and chest pain. Some patients develop rash and skin sores. It may also cause severe redness in the eyes and blurred vision. There's no cure for sarcoidosis. If it starts to affect your organs, you will likely be treated with medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs.
 
Chronic cough
A persistent cough is one of the most common problems encountered in the practice of a respiratory specialists. This is a diagnostic problem. Causes may range from serious conditions such as tuberculosis and lung cancer to less serious conditions like asthma or nasal allergies. A complete work up usually ranges from treatment trials for the most common conditions that tend  to be not serious to some who may need investigations like CT scans or bronchoscopies. Treatment will then follow upon diagnosis of the cause of the cough.
 
This is a condition in which the muscles of the upper airway relax as the patient is entering the deeper stages of sleep, causing a blockage. No air enters the lungs and there is a reflex rise in heart rate and blood pressure. The brain will arouse enough to allow the muscles in the upper airway to open up and allow air into the lungs. Most people with sleep apnea do not realize that they are awakening to breathe repeatedly throughout the night. This is because the arousal is slight and most people become accustomed to this. However even this slight arousal is enough to disrupt your sleep and you are drowsy and tired the next day. There are several effective treatments for obstructive sleep apnea, namely weight loss, breathing-assistance devices, dental appliances and surgery. A commonly recommended treatment involves using a breathing-assistance device that delivers air under pressure to the airway through a mask applied over the nose and ensures uninterrupted breathing during sleep.
 
Chest infections
Chest infections can be treated at both hospital as well as clinic settings. Most hospitalized chest infections are caused by bacterialpneumonias and treatment with antibiotics are effective. Chronic lung infections that are seen include pulmonary TB, non-tuberculous mycobacterial infections and fungal infections.  
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