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UC Davis Children’s Hospital

UC Davis Children’s Hospital

Pulmonary (lung and bronchial) services

What is alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency?

Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency is an inherited disorder that interferes with the ability of the liver to manufacture a vital protein. The protein, alpha-1 antitrypsin, helps protect the lungs against damage from infection, inflammation or damaging enzymes. A child with lung damage as a result of an insufficiency of the alpha-1 antitrypsin protein may experience difficulty in breathing. Alpha-1 antitrypsin replacement therapy is available to treat the disorder.

 

What is apnea of prematurity?

A pattern of intermittent respiration during sleep, in which lapses between breaths last 20 seconds or more, is termed apnea. In prematurely born infants, such lapses can be caused either by airway obstructions or by incomplete development of the medulla – the portion of the brain that controls breathing. Apnea of prematurity caused by inadequate nerve impulses may respond to massaging the infant’s body. If necessary, it can be treated by artificially stimulating the breathing response with medications. Following treatment in the hospital, home monitoring equipment can alert parents about possible recurrences. The condition may subside and disappear as an infant matures.

 

What is asthma?

Asthma, the most pervasive chronic childhood illness, is a treatable but potentially life-threatening inflammatory lung condition that causes narrowing of the airways in the respiratory system. Obstruction of normal breathing occurs as a result of excess mucus secretion, inflammation of bronchial passageways and excessive tension of the muscles that regulate breathing. The shortness of breath that accompanies an asthmatic attack can cause insufficient oxygen levels in the blood. Asthma results from sensitivity of the lungs to certain triggers, which may include pollen, dust, pet dander, cigarette smoke or other airborne irritants. Although asthma cannot be cured, several different classifications of medications can effectively control it.

 

What is bronchitis?

Bronchitis is a condition in which the bronchi – the air ducts leading to the lungs – become inflamed due to viral infection. Bronchitis produces coughing, shortness of breath and wheezing. Normally, bronchitis disappears as the infection completes its course.

 

What is bronchopulmonary dysplasia?

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the name given to various conditions and diseases – including chronic bronchitis and asthma – that constrict passage of air in the respiratory system. Although COPD is primarily associated with smoking, it also has been linked to “passive” or “second-hand” smoke – exposure to others who are smoking cigarettes.

 

What is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease?

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the name given to various conditions and diseases – including chronic bronchitis and asthma – that constrict passage of air in the respiratory system. Although COPD is primarily associated with smoking, it also has been linked to “passive” or “second-hand” smoke – exposure to others who are smoking cigarettes.

 

What is cystic fibrosis?

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a genetic disorder of the lungs and digestive system. CF impairs production of a protein called CFTR that normally regulates the balance between salt and water in cell membranes. As a result, the coating of fluid and mucus within the lungs and other organs becomes much thicker and less pliable than it should be. The gooey mass traps bacteria, making children who have contracted cystic fibrosis particularly susceptible to repeated lung infections. Over time, repeated infections can diminish lung capacity, leading to a reduced life span. Although no cure for CF currently exists, ongoing medical therapy can significantly reduce respiratory difficulties and improve digestion.

 

What is flexible bronchoscopy?

By means of a flexible tube, a bronchoscope enables a physician to peer deep inside the respiratory tract, including the nasal passages, the larynx, vocal cords, and bronchial tubes. By means of fiber-optic technology, a bronchoscope can help in diagnosing a respiratory condition that has not responded to conventional treatment.

 

What is neonatal wet lung syndrome?

Formally known as “transient tachypnea of the newborn,” neonatal wet lung syndrome results when newborn infants are unable to clear their lungs of the amniotic fluid in which they were immersed in the womb. The fluid prevents adequate intake of oxygen, causing rapid, shallow breathing. The condition is treated by immersing the infant in an oxygen-rich atmosphere under a hood or by pumping pressurized air into the nose.

 

What is pneumonia?

Respiratory distress syndrome, abbreviated RDS, is a condition that is more likely to affect newborn infants than those born following full-term pregnancies. RDS causes the alveoli—the normally pliable tiny air sacs within the lungs — to stiffen and constrict, making inflation of the lungs difficult. A child with RDS struggles to breathe, depriving the blood of sufficient oxygen. Medical treatment can cure RDS within about five days.

 

What is respiratory distress syndrome?

Respiratory distress syndrome, abbreviated RDS, is a condition that is more likely to affect newborn infants than those born following full-term pregnancies. RDS causes the alveoli – the normally pliable tiny air sacs within the lungs – to stiffen and constrict, making inflation of the lungs difficult. A child with RDS struggles to breathe, depriving the blood of sufficient oxygen. Medical treatment can cure RDS within about five days.

 

What is respiratory syncytial virus?

Respiratory syncytial virus, known as RSV, is an infectious condition that causes bronchiolitis, an inflammation of the lower airways. Common among infants, RSV can induce pneumonia or other severe respiratory illness if left untreated. RSV is contagious and can be transmitted by sneezing, coughing or by contaminated material that contacts the mouth or eyes. Because antibiotics are ineffective in combating viruses, medical treatment for RSV is directed at alleviating symptoms. Depending upon individual circumstances, therapy may include intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration, bronchodilator medication to open constricted airways, or even supplementary oxygen.