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How to diagnose lung hyperinflation

This article was co-authored by Ni-Cheng Liang, MD. Dr. Ni-Cheng Liang is a board certified Pulmonologist and the Director of Pulmonary Integrative Medicine at Coastal Pulmonary Associates affiliated with the Scripps Health Network in San Diego, California. She also serves as a Voluntary Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine while volunteering for the UCSD Medical Student-Run Free Clinic for uninsured patients. With over 15 years of experience, Dr. Liang specializes in pulmonary and respiratory medical concerns, mindfulness teaching, physician wellness, and integrative medicine. Dr. Liang received her Doctor of Medicine (MD) from the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Dr. Liang was voted as a San Diego Top Doctor in 2017 and 2019. She was also awarded the 2019 American Lung Association San Diego Lung Health Provider of the Year.

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Lung hyperinflation is the chronic and excessive inflation or expansion of the lungs. It can result from excess carbon dioxide being trapped in the lung or a lack of lung elasticity due to pulmonary illness. Additionally, any obstruction within the bronchial tubes or alveoli, the channels that transport air into the lung tissue, can cause hyperinflated lungs. To diagnose lung hyperinflation, be aware of its causes and symptoms, and seek a professional diagnosis.

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How to Diagnose Lung Hyperinflation

Clicks: Updated:2016-12-28 09:12:10

Lung hyperinflation is the chronic and excessive inflation or expansion of the lungs. It can result from excess carbon dioxide being trapped in the lung or a lack of lung elasticity due to pulmonary illness. Additionally, any obstruction within the bronchial tubes or alveoli, the channels that transport air into the lung tissue, can cause hyperinflated lungs. To diagnose lung hyperinflation, be aware of its causes and symptoms, and seek a professional diagnosis.

Recognizing the Symptoms
1. Pay attention to changes in breathing. Does taking a breath feel difficult or painful? Do you feel that, when breathing, you are not getting enough oxygen? These sensations are not a guarantee of lung hyperinflation. They are, however, warning signs when experienced with other symptoms.

2. Be wary of a chronic cough. Coughing is a common side-effect of certain pulmonary illnesses as well as smoking. Lung hyperinflation leads to a chronic, wheezing cough that interrupts normal daily functions.

3. Watch for other changes in the body. Other changes in the body, when combined with the above symptoms, may point to lung hyperinflation.

How to diagnose lung hyperinflation

Getting a Medical Diagnosis
1. Let a doctor assess your medical history and conduct a physical examination. Your doctor will make an initial assessment of your condition by gathering information about your past and present health history.

2. Get chest x-rays. A chest x-ray generates an image of the lungs, air passages, the heart, blood vessels, and the bones of your chest and spine. A chest x-ray can be used to gauge whether lungs are hyperinflated.

3. Get a computer tomography (CT) scan. CT scans are an imaging method that uses x-rays to produce a three-dimensional representation of the body.The pictures generated by the machine illustrate the scope of lung damage and hyperinflation.

4. Have pulmonary function tests done. Pulmonary function tests are tests that measure breathing capacity and overall pulmonary function. To confirm a diagnosis of lung hyperinflation, two numerical values are assessed during a pulmonary function test.

Assessing Your Risk
1. Understand the effect of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD is present when there is an obstruction in your lungs that disrupts airflow. COPD is usually treated by monitoring and controlling symptoms through a combination of medical assistance and lifestyle changes. Hyperinflation of the lungs is frequently caused by COPD. If you’ve previously been diagnosed with COPD, this could increase your risk for lung hyperinflation.

2. Be aware of the effect of asthma. Asthma is caused by inflammation of the airways. Depending on the severity of an asthma attack, swelling can disrupt air flow to the lungs. Over time, this can result in lung hyperinflation. Treatment of asthma usually involves building an action plan with your doctor about medication, lifestyle changes, and how to manage asthma attacks when they occur. Talk to your doctor about better managing your asthma as to avoid lung hyperinflation.

3. Learn the effect of cystic fibrosis. Cystic fibrosis is a chronic disease that may affect several organs and systems in your body. It is an inherited disorder of the exocrine gland, characterized by an abnormal production of mucus that tends to be much thicker and stickier than usual, which can plug your airways. As with anything that blocks airways, cystic fibrosis can lead to lung hyperinflation. If you have cystic fibrosis, you are at an increased risk of lung hyperinflation.

Citation, DOI and case data

Presentation

Longstanding asthma. Shortness of breath.

Patient Data

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How to diagnose lung hyperinflation

> 10 posterior ribs in the midclavicular line above the diaphragm.

Case Discussion

Hyperinflated lungs are present in many chronic chest conditions in particular COPD and asthma.

This may be evidenced by:

a. Flattened hemidiphragms

b. Hyperlucent lungs ( less bronchovascular markings per cm 2 )

c. More than 6 anterior or 10 posterior ribs in the mid-clavicular line at the lung diaphragm level.

1 article features images from this case

9 public playlists include this case

  • COPD & Bronchiectasis by Christopher L. Smoley
  • thorax by Valentin Ladenhauf
  • cxr by Dr.Md A.Islam
  • FRANZCR 02 Chest by Dr. AMIRSALEH JAFARI
  • Unilateral hyperlucent thorax by Ryan McConnell
  • Textbook CXRS by Dr Ian Bickle “> ◉
  • lungs by Miss Fleur Weiqian Kong
  • Gamuts – Chest by Suantou
  • Tufts Capstone Quiz by T Carraway

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