Exciting World of Lungs

In Germany, a new plague: until recently, literature about the internal organs of man was interested exclusively in medical professionals, biology teachers and hypochondriacs, and today books about the heart, skin, prostate and intestines are among the bestsellers. And here is a book about the lungs.

Why the lungs? You can answer very briefly: because… Because it was their turn. Because until now, nothing has been written about them. Because I am a pulmonologist and the lungs are my specialty, my area of expertise. No one is surprised that Manuel Neuer plays as a goalkeeper, not as a striker, Lady Gaga works in show business, not as a clerk, and Jorg Pilava hosts entertainment programs on television, not news. Sooner or later, the system of training doctors forces them to specialize in order to devote their activities to one organ or one system of the body. But here I will not speculate about whether this is correct: if at the beginning of my studies I was asked what field I would like to specialize in, the lungs — this is an inconspicuous paired asymmetric formation with a strong spongy structure permeated with cartilage — would probably occupy one of the last places in the list of my preferences. Do you know of any novel or movie about doctors in which the main character is a pulmonologist? In such cult TV series as “Hope of Chicago” and “Ambulance”, there are no doctors of this specialty at all.

My fate was not much different from the fate of most of my classmates: somehow it so happened that I got this specialty, but I did not manage to jump off it until the qualifying exam. And then I just got used to it. Sometimes, over time, something like love arises, and if this love persists, then at best the doctor becomes an enthusiast for his specialty, and at worst-a professional idiot with blinders on his eyes, for whom all medical science is limited to the image of his favorite organ in the anatomical Atlas. And from this position it will not be knocked down. Chest pain? It is the heart! Shortness of breath? Definitely a heart! Burning sensation when urinating? Of course, the heart!!! Now let’s change the doctor’s specialty. Chest pain? Looks like nerves. Shortness of breath? Probably nerves. Burning sensation when urinating? You can not even doubt — nerves…

So why is this book about lungs? My answer will be subjective: because I consider the lungs to be the most complex, interesting, beautiful, important, irreplaceable — in short, the most important organ, the first violin of the human body. Because almost any disease and any symptom can affect or, on the contrary, develop against the background of problems with the respiratory system to some extent.

But, in addition to my personal assessments, there are a number of striking facts that justify such close attention to this body. So, here are some objective answers to the question why this book is dedicated to easy:

  • Because from year to year millions of people around the world come to doctors with complaints of coughing or shortness of breath;
  • Because pneumonia is the most common cause of death among infectious diseases; because tuberculosis is not a relic from nineteenth-century fiction, but a disease that still kills a huge number of people, especially in developing countries;
  • Because bronchial asthma is the most common childhood chronic disease;
  • Because lung cancer is the most common cancer among men;
  • Because in the near future, lung cancer is projected to become the most common cancer among women, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) will take the third place among all causes of death;
  • Because the current debate about cheating on harmful diesel emissions and the impact of fine dust on urban populations should focus not on the economic future of the automotive industry, but on the long-term effects on lung health. And because the alarming figures for air pollution in the so-called new industrial countries will inevitably raise the question of the “human right to clean air” if we want to prevent a health catastrophe. Even today, millions of people are dying because of air pollution — even without counting the victims of Smoking.

This is why the book is dedicated to the lungs. In fact, they need public relations, because in most countries they are not even mentioned, unless it is about anti-Smoking campaigns. You will not see posters in pedestrian areas that shout about lung diseases, such as those that talk about heart attacks, diabetes, liver inflammation or impotence. Initiatives dedicated to early detection of lung diseases are usually limited to basic advice to quit Smoking, and their funding is very scarce. Despite millions of people suffering from lung diseases, pulmonology is clearly not given a sufficient place in the research programs of German universities and clinics. In 2012, Germany trained more than 10,000 doctors, but among them there were only 90 pulmonologists — three times less than cardiologists, and half as many as specialists in gastrointestinal diseases. Almost any German family doctor can give a referral for an ECG, but a simple study of the ventilation functions of the lungs, which takes less than thirty seconds, is offered only in a very small part of medical practices.

The lungs do not declare themselves loudly, they behave modestly and imperceptibly. This is a team player who prefers to keep a low profile, although he has an extremely important role to play. In football, they would most likely be in the position of a midfielder, on whom both victory and defeat largely depend, but who is almost not mentioned in the match reports. These players run 10 kilometers per game, win 90 percent of single combats, but do not score goals or give assists. The lungs are not able to compete with the” stars ” among the organs. This is not the heart or the brain, which is assigned the role of the receptacle of the soul and mind, and where dramas such as heart attacks or strokes are played out, the symptoms of which can be recited by almost any schoolchild. All sorts of sad events and troubles can “break the heart”, “sit in the liver” or make “out of the skin to climb”, but do not affect the lungs. The lungs are not connected to the senses, which are capable of throwing a person into a panic at the slightest provocation. The lungs can easily lose more than one-third of their functions, and we won’t even notice it!

The lungs don’t itch or hurt, they don’t break like a femur or tear like a cruciate ligament. In most cases, the lungs behave like a quiet and inconspicuous tenant who seems to exist, but whom no one sees or hears. We do not feel the lungs, there is no pain in them. If a malignant tumor is formed, it occurs imperceptibly. Pain occurs only when the disease goes beyond this organ and affects, for example, the pleura or sternum.

The lungs are out of sight: they hide in the depths of the chest behind a shell of bones and muscles, and we never see them. Since the lungs of animals are practically inedible (except for individual Amateurs), most people can’t even look at what they look like in a butcher’s shop. On the x-ray image, we usually see two vague dark spots, shaped like a loaf of bread cut in half (and between them shines a dazzling white heart!).

What is remarkable about an organ that we do not feel or see and that quietly and imperceptibly performs its function? Yes, everyone! Thanks to the lungs, we breathe, they are constantly in operation-from the cradle to the grave. Lungs function in the body of a premature baby, they participate in the first cry of a newborn, in gokage and the baby in the sobs of a frustrated teenager in a confused and hoarse breathing of the athlete, the groans and vain attempts of the mother, in a calm and rhythmic breathing of the sleeping, painful spasms of the patient at its last gasp.

No other organ is subject to such a degree of influence and threats from outside, as a result of this are its frequent diseases. As a rule, the patient recovers, but this is not always the case. And then lung diseases strongly poison the patient’s existence and even threaten his life. Therefore, the purpose of this book is to explain in a simple and understandable form to both healthy and sick people how lung diseases occur, what their consequences can be, and, most importantly, how to deal with them. Care for this wonderful organ begins with prevention and ends with the most effective treatment to prevent complications.

The lungs are much more than just a supplier of fuel for generating energy, which is why it makes sense to take good care of their well-being! Healthy and fully functioning lungs are an important prerequisite for the body to perform its physical functions. The person who has experienced the joy (and agony) of maximum load on the lungs during sports activities, looks at this organ with completely different eyes. And those who use simple but proven breathing exercises to bring their body to a state of deep rest, tend to believe that some part of our soul lives in the lungs.

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