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What does it mean when your left lung hurts?

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The lungs do not have a significant amount of pain receptors, which means that any pain felt in the lungs probably originates somewhere else in the body.

However, some lung-related conditions can result in pain in the left lung.

The chest contains several vital organs, including the heart and lungs. Because of this, it is understandable why a person who experiences pain in this area might be worried about what is causing it.

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In this article, we take a look at some potential causes of lung pain, and what people should do if they experience this symptom.

  • Left lung pain can be a symptom of many different conditions.

  • Symptoms may not be a medical emergency, but they could represent an underlying problem.

  • Treatments for left lung pain will depend on the underlying cause.

  • The following are examples of some of the more common causes of lung pain, including left lung pain:

  • Asthma is a condition that causes airway inflammation and lung irritability, which make a person more prone to wheezing and shortness of breath.

    Chronic coughing and wheezing associated with asthma can cause feelings of chest tightness.

    Typically, this will make a person’s chest feel tight on both sides, not just the left.

  • Costochondritis is an inflammation of the connective tissue that joins a person’s ribs to their breastbone. Costochondritis can cause pain that feels like chest pain, which can be one-sided.

  • Hyperventilation

    Hyperventilation or rapid breathing can be the result of illness or panic attacks. This condition can affect the natural balance between carbon dioxide and oxygen inside the body.

    One of the primary symptoms of hyperventilation is chest pain.

    A person may also experience dizziness, headache, and trouble concentrating.

    Lung cancer

    Lung cancer does not usually cause symptoms at first. As lung cancer spreads, a person may notice symptoms such as a chronic cough, shortness of breath, and feeling tired or weak with no known reason.

    Pneumothorax

    Pneumothorax is when a portion or all of a lung collapses. This can cause sudden and significant chest pain on the affected side of the chest.

    A pneumothorax can occur suddenly or after an injury or illness.

  • Pleural effusion

    Pleural effusion is a condition where excess fluid builds up inside the lining of the lung, known as the pleural space. This buildup can cause difficulty breathing as well as discomfort on the affected side, which could be the left.

    Pleurisy

    This condition occurs when the two membranes of the chest wall become inflamed. When they rub up against each other, pain and shortness of breath can occur.

    When a person has pleurisy, a doctor will do a variety of tests to find the cause. The cause could be a viral infection, trauma, or lupus, which is an autoimmune disorder that attacks a person’s tissues and organs.

    Pneumonia

    Pneumonia is a condition where a person experiences a severe respiratory infection that can affect one or both lungs. If pneumonia affects the left lung, a person may experience pain in the left lung.

    Additional symptoms might include a cough, fever, chills, and shortness of breath.

    Pulmonary embolism

    A pulmonary embolism (PE) is a blood clot or clots in the arteries of the lungs. A PE can occur after a person has had a surgery or been sedentary for some time.

  • While some causes of left-sided lung pain may be mild, others can be cause for concern. Some signs that left lung pain could be a medical emergency include:

    • chest pain, particularly chest pain that radiates down the left arm

    • coughing up blood

    • lips or fingernails that are bluish in tint, which can indicate that a person is not getting enough oxygen

    • shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

    • temperature higher than 105°F

    If a person experiences these or other symptoms, they should call 911 or have someone drive them to the emergency room immediately.

    Lung cancer signs can include:

    • long-term changes to the sound and tone of a person’s voice, such as hoarseness

    • chronic infection, such as bronchitis or pneumonia that will not go away

    • a cough that does not get better over time

    • coughing up rust-colored or blood-tinged mucus

    • unexplained feelings of fatigue and weakness

    • wheezing with no known underlying cause

    If someone experiences these symptoms, they should see a doctor.

  • Whether the pain is related to the lung or feels as though it is, a person should see their doctor if their pain is interfering with their everyday life.

    This is especially true if the pain is worsening instead of improving.

    A doctor will diagnose the cause of left lung pain by taking a medical history and carrying out a physical examination.

    The doctor will ask questions about what makes the pain worse, what makes it better, and when the pain began. They will also listen to the lungs with a stethoscope.

    A doctor may recommend initial imaging studies, such as a chest X-ray to identify potential abnormalities related to the lungs. If this X-ray does not reveal any problems, but the doctor suspects an underlying problem, they may recommend further testing.

    Further tests could include a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) scan. These imaging studies can provide different, high-quality pictures of the lungs to aid in a diagnosis.

    Other modes of testing may include a complete blood count to identify the number of white blood cells a person has. A high white blood cell count could indicate that an infection is present in the body.

    Another test a doctor might use is a cardiac enzyme panel, which is a test to determine whether pain in the left lung is in fact chest pain related to a heart attack or another heart problem.

    Doctors may also recommend individual tests based upon a person’s symptoms in addition to left lung pain.

    Resting and taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications can help if the cause is related to muscles around the lung. These medications include acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

    Treatments for other possible causes of left lung pain can vary. For example, if a person has a collapsed left lung, a doctor may insert a small tube between the ribs and into the space around the lung to re-inflate it.

    Doctors may prescribe antibiotics to treat respiratory-related infections caused by bacteria.

    The most important thing to do is see a doctor who can begin the diagnostic process so treatment can begin as soon as possible.

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Got Pain? A Virtual Swim With Dolphins May Help Melt It Away

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Source: npr- Virtual reality is not new. But, as people search for alternative ways to manage pain — and reduce reliance on pills — VR is attracting renewed attention.

Imagine, for a moment you’ve been transported to a sunlit lagoon. And, suddenly, it’s as if you’re immersed in the warm water and swimming. That’s what Tom Norris experiences when he straps on his VR headset.

“It’s fantastic, I really feel like I’m there,” says Norris, who is 70 years old, retired from the military, and lives in Los Angeles with his wife. As dolphins frolic and swim by in the virtual scene, “I get a strong feeling of pleasure, relaxation and peace,” he says.

It doesn’t take long to produce that effect — about 10 minutes or so, via the headset.

Norris is no stranger to pain. He’s got chronic pain through his spine, back and hips, from injuries that go back years.

Ever since he was introduced to virtual reality, he’s been hooked. In addition to swimming with dolphins, he’s tried other VR experiences, such as wilderness walks.

Forest Bathing: A Retreat To Nature Can Boost Immunity And Mood

Forest Bathing: A Retreat To Nature Can Boost Immunity And Mood

“I relax. My attention is diverted and it makes the pain more manageable,” he says. Norris was on his deck when we spoke, drinking a morning cup of coffee and watching the hummingbirds. “Pain is part of my life,” he told me.

He uses lots of tools to help him cope, he says, including peer support groups, which he helps lead. But he says he finds VR particularly helpful. For him, the feeling of relaxation and ease that comes from a virtual swim with dolphins tends to linger for several days.

Can You Reshape Your Brain’s

Norris isn’t alone in his positive experience. A study published this month in the journal PLOS ONE is just the latest to document that an immersive, virtual reality experience can be an effective strategy for reducing pain.

VR “changes the way we perceive the pain,” explains study author Brennan Spiegel, a physician and the director of Cedars-Sinai Health Services Research in Los Angeles.

The research was done in a hospital where participants were undergoing treatment for various conditions; some were experiencing pain linked to cancer and others had orthopedic pain. “We divided the patients into two groups,” Spiegel explains.

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles has been testing the value of virtual reality devices in hospital settings for a number of years.

Courtesy of Cedars-Sinai

One group tried VR. They used Samsung Oculus headsets that were each fitted with a phone that had a VR app. Patients could select from a library of 21 VR experiences available on the app.

They were free to use the VR devices as much as they liked, but were advised to aim for three daily sessions, 10 minutes per session. The other group of patients got to watch a health and wellness channel on TV, as much as they wanted.

“We found that virtual reality reduced pain by about three times as much as watching TV did,” Spiegel says. Using a zero to 10 pain scale, the virtual reality experience led to a 2 point drop in pain, compared to a half-point drop for watching TV.

Spiegel’s study was partly funded by a grant from Applied VR, a company that sells VR software, but the company played no role in the conduct, data collection, data interpretation, or write-up of the study, he says.

It’s not exactly clear how VR works to help reduce pain perception, but pain specialists say there are likely multiple explanations. Distraction in just one element.

“When the mind is deeply engaged in an immersive experience, it becomes difficult to perceive stimuli outside of the field of attention,” Spiegel and his collaborators write in their journal paper. In other words, when something captures our attention and uses all our senses, we focus on it. It’s like a spotlight — and everything else falls into darkness — at last temporarily.

So, a virtual swim with the dolphins can overwhelm our visual, auditory and other senses. “VR is thought to create an immersive distraction that restricts the brain from processing pain,” the authors conclude.

The study adds to other evidence pointing toward potential benefits of VR to manage pain. Going back more than 15 years, studies have shown the technique to be useful in a range of settings — from helping people cope with anxiety to helping reduce acute pain during medical procedures, during physical therapy or during dental procedures. And, there’s some evidence VR can help with chronic pain, too.

Still, there are some unanswered questions, says Zachary Rosenthal, a clinical psychologist at Duke University who has been involved in research on VR’s effect on pain. “Distraction is helpful for pain,” he says. “That’s an understood phenomenon. … But why should VR be better than any other kind of distraction?” he wonders.

Spiegel’s research “starts to answer this question,” says Rosenthal. “I do think this study moves the needle forward.”

If you’re new to virtual reality, Spiegel has some advice: “It’s always a good idea to check with your doctor first, whenever self-treating symptoms. But in general, it is safe to use VR at home,” he says. About 5% to 10% of people who try it get cybersickness, which is basically a feeling of dizziness or vertigo, similar to motion sickness. So, it’s good to be aware of this risk.

“For people who own an Oculus Go or Oculus Quest [headset], I suggest Nature Trek, which is an outstanding set of content that is peaceful and meditative” for the treatment of pain, says Spiegel, who has no financial ties to the company. And there are other companies that make a variety of software specifically aimed at easing pain.

“For cheap and easy access to VR experiences, you can simply visit YouTube and search its massive library of free VR content,” Spiegel says. “If you want a virtual trip to the beach, type ‘VR beach’ into the YouTube search engine. Or ‘VR forest.’ It’s all there for the taking.”

VR is certainly not a panacea, but it can be another tool in the pain management toolkit. Spiegel and his collaborators say there’s still a lot to learn as to which types of VR may be most effective.

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Health & Lifestyle

Get a 24-Hour Blood Pressure Reading to really know your heart health

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  • High blood pressure (hypertension) is a warning sign of multiple health issues.
  • A new study finds that the best way to determine a person’s heart health is to look at their blood pressure over 24 hours.
  • This method could offset “white coat hypertension,” where the stress of going to the doctor’s office can increase a person’s blood pressure.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for nearly 1 in every 4 deaths — or about 610,000 deathsTrusted Source — each year.

It’s also the most expensive disease, costing the country nearly $1 billion each day.

The vast majority of cardiovascular disease cases are preventable, had people received earlier diagnoses and treatments.

One way to detect signs of cardiovascular disease is a simple blood pressure reading.

High blood pressure (hypertension) has long been known to be the biggest — and most treatable — risk factor associated with diseases of the heart and vascular system. But many people don’t know they have it until it’s too late, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source.

Now, researchers have discovered a new way to get more accurate measurements of blood pressure, which can hopefully get people on the right medications sooner and help prevent cardiovascular disease.

By recording people’s blood pressure over 24 hours rather than just once in a clinic or hospital setting, doctors can more accurately diagnose high blood pressure and effectively predict someone’s risk for heart and vascular disease, according to a new international study recently published in JAMATrusted Source.

To determine the most reliable way to measure blood pressure, researchers followed 11,135 people from Europe, East Asia, and Latin America for 14 years.

They compared the accuracy of blood pressure readings that were taken in a medical setting to blood pressure recordings that were taken during both night and day over 24-hour periods.

The researchers found that the 24-hour and nighttime blood pressure measurements provided a more accurate estimate of one’s risk for heart and vascular disease compared to the in-office readings.

“Although heart and vascular disease are strongly associated with blood pressure, irrespective of how it is measured, until now we did not know which type of blood pressure measurement captured risk in the most accurate way,” study co-author Dr. Gladys Maestre, a researcher from the University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine, said in a statement.

The findings suggest that blood pressure should be monitored repeatedly for 24 hours to help diagnose people’s heart issues and, ultimately, prevent cardiovascular disease, according to the researchers.

“Ever since devices to measure blood pressure were invented more than 100 years ago, it’s been known that elevation of such readings predicted the eventual development of blood vessel disease, heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and kidney dysfunction,” says Dr. Richard Wright, a cardiologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California.

In general, the further a person’s blood pressure readings deviate from the ideal, the more likely they are to eventually develop any of these health issues, Wright added.

However, a huge issue comes into play when blood pressure is measured in a healthcare setting.

Many people have elevated blood pressure readings due to anxiety of being in a medical environment — known as the white coat effect — and those high readings don’t accurately reflect a person’s overall blood pressure levels.

“Unfortunately, blood pressure isn’t a fixed number for any individual and varies widely over each day, being much higher during stress or physical exercise, and typically lowest at night during asleep,” he explained.

Even the stress of having a blood pressure cuff put on the arm or seeing a doctor walk into the room can cause some people’s blood pressure to spike, he added.

Repeated monitoring can better predict your risk

Twenty-four hour monitoring can look at a person’s blood pressure fluctuations throughout an entire day rather than at a given moment.

There’s also a huge advantage of measuring blood pressure during sleep because the results aren’t affected by daytime meals or activities.

“Ambulatory monitors give us a great sense of what the patient’s blood pressure is doing in real life as well as when they are sleeping, when it should decrease,” Dr. Nicole Harkin, a board-certified cardiologist and lipidologist with Manhattan Cardiovascular Associates in New York City, said.

“They also give us a large data set of blood pressures to look at, as opposed to a one-time snapshot in the doctor’s office, which is subject to many variables, including errors in measurement as well the patient’s recent activity level, medication timing, and inadequate rest prior to measurement,” she said.

According to Harkin, the current American College of Cardiology and American Heart Association blood pressure guidelines support the use of ambulatory blood pressure monitoring to better predict cardiovascular outcomes.

Coverage for ambulatory blood pressure monitoring varies across different insurance providers. Much of the time, it’s only covered for people who experience white coat hypertension, in which an individual’s blood pressure is higher in a doctor’s office than it would normally be, she explained.

Seeing as ambulatory blood pressure monitoring can better predict long-term heart disease outcomes, healthcare providers should place a greater emphasis on 24-hour readings than those taken in a doctor’s office.

If people know their blood pressure is higher than it should be, the better they can manage it to minimize the odds they’ll develop heart disease down the road.

High blood pressure can be the biggest predictor of heart disease, so the sooner people can start managing their blood pressure, the lower their risk of heart and vascular disease may be.

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