The physicians of The Lung Center at Mercy provide comprehensive, state-of-the-art care to patients with a range of pulmonary symptoms and diagnoses. Areas of expertise include:
Asthma is a chronic disease that affects breathing. Airways, the tubes allowing air to come in and out of the lungs, become constricted and inflamed. These sensitive airways react when confronted with certain allergens and irritants. The constricted airways cause wheezing, coughing and labored breathing. Asthma can be treated with preventive medicines (providing long-term control) as well as quick-relief medicines (providing immediate relief of symptoms).
The physicians of The Lung Center at Mercy bring experience with individually-targeted medication combinations for asthma control. For more information or to schedule an appointment call 410-332-9732.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
COPD is a serious lung disease characterized by the gradual loss of lung function. The term COPD encompasses both emphysema and chronic bronchitis. By far the leading risk factor for COPD is smoking, although there may also be some contribution from other lung irritants like pollution and chemicals. COPD develops slowly, usually for years before any symptoms, such as shortness of breath, coughing and increased sputum production, manifest. There is no cure for COPD and no way to reverse lung damage. Because the disease can be fatal, it is essential that those with COPD work in close collaboration with a medical specialist to slow disease progression and improve overall health.
The physicians of The Lung Center at Mercy have wide-ranging expertise in treating COPD. The Lung Center is equipped to provide a complete diagnosis of lung disease including the utilization of onsite pulmonary function testing equipment. Treatment methods vary with the degree of severity of COPD, but may include the use of medications, oxygen treatment, pulmonary rehabilitation and, in severe cases, surgical treatment. To schedule an appointment with one of Mercy’s expert pulmonologists call 410-332-9732.
Infections of the lung
Lung infections encompass a broad range of illnesses with a variety of origins. Some of the most well known lung infections include influenza, tuberculosis, bronchitis and pneumonia.
Influenza (flu) is a commonly occurring respiratory infection that usually develops between October and March. Newborns, the elderly and people with certain chronic conditions are particularly at increased risk. It can be a serious and even fatal infection.
Tuberculosis (TB) is a highly contagious bacterial infection. Symptoms include fever, chills, night sweats, unexplained weight loss and a bad cough productive of blood or other material. If not properly treated, TB can be deadly.
Bronchitis is an infection of the main airways to the lungs and causes a cough, shortness of breath and chest tightness. It can be acute (going away on its own after a short period) or chronic (long-term). Chronic bronchitis is a type of COPD.
Pneumonia is an infection of the alveoli or small air sacs of the lungs. There are many different types, caused by a variety of microscopic organisms, including bacteria, viruses and fungi. Pneumonia is usually very treatable, but it can become fatal in people with a compromised immune system, or people with a serious, chronic disease.
Because of the wide range in types of lung infections and appropriate treatments, it is important to see an expert who can accurately make the diagnosis in order to recommend the best course of treatment. The physicians of The Lung Center at Mercy are experienced and highly trained to provide care for lung infections. To schedule an appointment call 410-332-9732.
HIV-related lung disorders
HIV and AIDS impair the immune system, often affecting pulmonary function and leaving the lungs vulnerable to infections and other complications. The most common HIV-related lung infections include tuberculosis, Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia (formerly known as Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia or PCP), Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC), bacterial pneumonia and viral pneumonia. Other pulmonary complications such as Kaposi sarcoma, AIDS-related lymphoma and pulmonary hypertension occur more often in AIDS patients as compared to the general population.
HIV positive or AIDS patients should take precautions in lung disease prevention. A coordinated treatment plan is critical for these individuals. The physicians of The Lung Center at Mercy provide clinical expertise in treating HIV- and AIDS-related lung disorders and work diligently to keep the multidisciplinary team of physicians informed and involved in creating an optimal treatment plan. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call The Lung Center at 410-332-9732.
Interstitial lung disease
Interstitial lung disease is a term used to describe a large group of conditions in which inflammation and progressive scarring of lung tissue create difficulty in breathing. Depending on the type of disorder, inflammation may be the major problem. Alternatively, in some patients scarring (or fibrosis) may develop and make the lungs stiff. The formation of scar tissue causes irreversible damage to the lungs. Although some forms of interstitial lung disease have been linked to other “primary” diseases (like rheumatoid arthritis), as well as occupational lung disease, sarcoidosis, medications and radiation, many times the cause is unknown. This is referred to as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. This is the most common form of interstitial pneumonitis although others exist.
Symptoms of interstitial lung disease include breathlessness during exercise and a dry cough. These symptoms may vary in severity, but by the time they manifest permanent scarring of lung tissue may have already begun. Because the course of this disease can be unpredictable and because an accurate diagnosis can be difficult, seeing an expert is critical. An experienced physician can not only provide an accurate diagnosis, but also appropriate treatment including the optimal combination of medications. The physicians of The Lung Center at Mercy specialize in treating interstitial lung disease. Most notably, Dr. Albert Polito has extensive experience in diagnosing and treating this complex disease and is widely-regarded and recognized by his peers as a specialist in interstitial lung disease and pulmonary fibrosis. To schedule an appointment please call The Lung Center at 410-332-9732.
Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer death in the United States and worldwide, yet it is also the most preventable form of cancer. The majority of lung cancers are linked to smoking. Quitting smoking can significantly reduce the risk of developing lung cancer. Additional risk factors include exposure to radon gas and air pollution.
There are two main types of lung cancer: non-small cell lung cancer (the most common) and small cell lung cancer. Non-small cell lung cancer accounts for the majority of lung cancers. Among the most common types of non-small cell lung cancer are squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma and large cell carcinoma. Small cell lung cancer makes up a smaller percentage of lung cancers, and the cells tend to grow rapidly, forming large tumors and often spreading to other parts of the body.
Lung cancer may not produce any symptoms, but some patients experience shortness of breath, coughing up blood, a chronic cough, wheezing or chest pain. Currently there is no recommended screening test for lung cancer. By the time the lung cancer diagnosis is made, the disease may be past its curable stages, which is why ongoing research is being conducted to develop the tools for prevention and early detection of lung cancer. One of the most advanced current tools for detecting lung cancer in its earliest stages is autofluorescence bronchoscopy. This progressive technology is used to detect abnormal areas in the airways that may be precancerous, and it is available at The Lung Center at Mercy.
The Lung Center at Mercy provides renowned clinical expertise combined with state-of-the-art technology to provide the most advanced care for patients with lung cancer. In addition to autofluorescence bronchoscopy, The Lung Center also offers innovative interventional pulmonary procedures including a number of bronchoscopic and pleuroscopic procedures to diagnose lung nodules and manage lung cancers. The physician experts of The Lung Center work in tandem with a multidisciplinary cancer team including medical oncology and radiation oncology to provide a comprehensive approach to cancer treatment. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call The Lung Center at 410-332-9732.
Bronchoscopic and pleuroscopic procedures – Bronchoscopic procedures are minimally invasive techniques used to explore the trachea and large airways in the lungs for abnormalities. Stents can be placed to open up obstructed airways (usually due to cancerous tumors). Tissue samples taken for biopsy can be used to diagnose cancer, as well as infections, sarcoidosis and other conditions. Pleuroscopic procedures are minimally invasive techniques used to explore the pleura, or lining around the lung, to diagnose cancers or infections. Biopsies can be taken during these procedures as well.
Neuromuscular disease is a general term which encompasses many conditions that impair nerves and muscles and can cause paralysis, spasms, weakness and movement problems. Neuromuscular diseases can affect the lungs by limiting the ability to inflate the lungs and breathe optimally. An assessment of pulmonary function is important in diagnosing and treating neuromuscular disease as it is frequently characterized by restrictive breathing patterns and reduced total lung capacity. Breathing can be further compromised during sleep, so sleep monitoring may also be recommended.
The Lung Center at Mercy is fully equipped to provide pulmonary function tests and sleep monitoring to make comprehensive assessments of the effects of neuromuscular conditions on breathing patterns and limitations. To schedule an appointment to discuss neuromuscular conditions, related pulmonary function testing and treatment options call The Lung Center at Mercy at 410-332-9732.
Occupational lung diseases
Occupational lung diseases are most often caused by repeated, long-term exposure to irritants or toxic substances, resulting in both chronic and acute conditions related to the lungs. Some of the most common occupational lung diseases include asbestosis, silicosis, occupational asthma, mesothelioma, coal workers’ pneumoconiosis (black lung), and hypersensitivity pneumonitis. More specific information on these diseases is available through The American Lung Association. General symptoms of occupational lung diseases include coughing, shortness of breath, chest pain and abnormal breathing patterns. Smoking can worsen these conditions.
The best method of prevention of occupational lung diseases is to avoid inhaling substances that cause lung disease, though quitting smoking, wearing proper protective devices and screening with pulmonary function tests can help as well. Treatment depends on many factors including the type of disease, the extent of disease, overall health and age. The Lung Center at Mercy provides comprehensive treatment for occupational lung diseases including state-of-the-art technology and physician expertise to treat occupational lung disease as well as additional pulmonary complications that may result from the condition. To schedule an appointment, call 410-332-9732.
Pulmonary hypertension is a serious condition in which blood pressure is abnormally high in the arteries within the lungs. These small arteries harden and narrow, which forces the heart to work harder to pump blood through them. Eventually, this stress on the heart can lead to heart failure. Symptoms may include fainting spells, shortness of breath, dizziness, chest pain, a racing pulse and swelling in the ankles or legs.
The accurate diagnosis, evaluation and treatment of pulmonary hypertension can be difficult, which is why it is important to see a physician with specific expertise in pulmonary hypertension. There are several types of pulmonary hypertension, and it is important to carefully identify the variety in order to prescribe the best treatment plan. The physicians of The Lung Center at Mercy provide experience in diagnosing pulmonary hypertension and work in conjunction with cardiology colleagues to treat it. To schedule an appointment please call 410-332-9732.
Sarcoidosis is a disease of unknown cause in which inflammation produces tiny clumps of cells (called granulomas) in various organs within the body. These granulomas can grow in clusters and can eventually affect organ function. Sarcoidosis most commonly appears in the lungs and lymph nodes and often affects the skin, eyes and liver. Symptomatic changes in sarcoidosis usually develop slowly, and the disease has both active and non-active phases. The severity of the disease can vary greatly among different people. Many times mild cases of sarcoidosis can improve without treatment, moderate cases may only require occasional treatment for flare-ups, and more severe cases can result in permanent organ damage and scarring of tissue.
Many people with sarcoidosis have no signs or symptoms and the disease is incidentally on a chest x-ray, taken for other purposes. Diagnosis is sometimes difficult and can involve a series of tests, which is why it is important to see a specialist who has experience in diagnosing and treating the disease. Mercy’s physicians can provide clinical expertise, appropriate testing as well as advanced interventional pulmonary procedures to diagnose sarcoidosis and prescribe the best course of treatment. To schedule an appointment call The Lung Center at 410-332-9732.
Researchers now know that a good night’s sleep is critical for general health. Both quantity (number of sleep hours) and quality (minimal to no interruptions) are important factors in determining sleep wellness. A sleep disorder may affect the quantity, quality, or both factors of sleep, and it may affect daytime functioning. The most common sleep disorders are sleep apnea, insomnia, restless legs syndrome and narcolepsy. For more information on these types of sleep disorders, visit Medline Plus, a website maintained by the U.S. Library of Health and the National Institutes of Health.
With a fully outfitted diagnostic sleep laboratory, The Lung Center at Mercy provides a comprehensive sleep evaluation for patients experiencing sleep difficulties. In particular, Dr. Audrey Liu has an extensive background in Sleep Medicine, including a Board Certification in the specialty and participation in numerous sleep-related research studies. For an appointment to discuss sleep issues please call 410-332-9732.
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