Bullae is a term used to describe the condition where there are large amounts of dead or dying cells in the lungs due to emphysema. These cells may not be completely dead but they have lost all their normal functions such as breathing and moving around. They may even be stuck inside your body with no way out. This type of lung disease is called pulmonary bullae. It’s caused by long-term exposure to high levels of pollutants and other toxins.
The most common causes of this type of lung disease include:
Pollution – fumes from coal plants, industrial waste, diesel exhaust, etc.
Chemicals – Antimony compounds (e.g., antimony trichloride), asbestos fibers, benzene, formaldehyde, lead paint (lead sulfate) and many others.
Radiation – X-rays, gamma rays, ionizing radiation, etc.
Toxins – Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), various pesticides and herbicides, heavy metals like mercury and arsenic.
In addition to these major causes of lung disease, there are also smaller environmental factors that contribute to the development of pulmonary bullae. These may include:
Your employment – Certain jobs and careers expose workers to a higher level of toxins such as industrial waste or other chemical products. This places them at a greater risk of developing bullae disease when compared to people who do not work around these types of fumes and wastes on a daily basis. Chemicals are just one source of workplace pollution. Others may include dust, asbestos, cigarette smoke and more.
Living conditions – the region where you live can also impact your odds of developing bullae disease. For example, people living in heavily industrial areas or mining towns have a higher risk of developing the disease than others. Pollution in the air, water or soil can all contribute to this. Living in an urban environment also increases your chances of exposure to high amounts of air pollutants.
Your hobbies and pastimes can impact your risk as well. For example, if you like to engage in activities such as target shooting, hunting, etc. you are more likely to breathe in lead fumes and other chemicals used in these activities. The same can be said about individuals who engage in regular visits to firing ranges or gun clubs.
Bullae lung is a form of emphysema. It usually affects the upper lobes of the lungs first. However, it can also occur in both lower and upper lungs and even all four lobes of the lungs if you have severe emphysema disease. The disease is not contagious and you cannot “give it” to anyone else. It’s usually caused by either long-term exposure to dangerous toxins or short-term events such as a toxic gas leak, an explosion, etc.
If you have severe bullae emphysema disease, you may also experience some of the following symptoms:
Shortness of breath
Chest pain that worsens with deep breaths or coughing
Wheezing when breathing
As the disease spreads and more tissue dies, scarring can occur in the lungs. This further impedes the lungs’ ability to transfer oxygen into the bloodstream and carbon dioxide from the blood stream.
Treatments for bullae emphysema disease include:
Rest – Your doctor may advise you to rest as much as possible. This will help you avoid using up what little oxygen remains in your blood stream.
Oxygen therapy – If your bullae disease has caused your lungs to become severely damaged or necrotic, the next step is usually going to be a trip to an oxygen bar. At these facilities, a person can breathe concentrated oxygen through a face mask or nose tubes. This is very helpful and necessary for people with extremely damaged lungs.
Medicines – Your physician may choose to give you bronchodilators and inhaled steroids in an effort to help open the airways and provide temporary relief to your symptoms. These drugs are used for temporary relief and are not a cure for bullae emphysema disease.
Surgery – In some instances, your doctor may advise a surgical procedure to open or maintain the airways. One such procedure is called a lung decortication. During this operation, the diseased and damaged areas of the lungs are removed.
If you suffer from bullae emphysema disease, it is important to follow your doctor’s treatment recommendations. The best way to combat this condition is to avoid exposing yourself to any toxic fumes or gases in the first place. If you are a smoker, now is the time to quit.
Bullae emphysema disease is a severe condition that can be life-threatening. If you would like more information on this disease or how we can help, please contact us today.
Sources & references used in this article:
Large lung bullae in marijuana smokers by MK Johnson, RP Smith, D Morrison, G Laszlo, RJ White – Thorax, 2000 – thorax.bmj.com
Bullectomy for giant bullae in emphysema by CD Laros, HJ Gelissen, PGM Bergstein… – The Journal of thoracic …, 1986 – Elsevier
Idiopathic bullae in diabetics: bullosis diabeticorum by AR Cantwell, W Martz – Archives of Dermatology, 1967 – jamanetwork.com
Sjögren’s syndrome with multiple bullae and pulmonary nodular amyloidosis by H Kobayashi, R Matsuoka, S Kitamura, N Tsunoda… – Chest, 1988 – Elsevier