CF Awareness Month: How the lungs can be affected

The lungs are a delicate thing.  They are sacks of air that keep you alive.  It is an understatement to say that breathing with crappy lungs is hard work.  There are many things besides just the standard crappy CF lungs that can happen in someone with CF.   A short list is the following; muscle/skeletal pain from all the coughing, collapsed lung (pneumothorax), pneumonia, pleurisy and lung bleeds (hemoptysis).

day 14 pleuisy day14 collapsed lung day14 pneumonia day31 lung bleeds


All of these can be very scary and painful.  I remember the first time I coughed up pure blood and it wouldn’t stop.  Some people think that coughing up blood means that when you spit it may have some blood in it.  Well let me fill you in how it really feels.  There is a gurgle in your chest (blood vessels popping) and then you have no control over the cough that brings up pure blood, there is no stopping it.  Your body knows it needs to get the blood out of there so it is an involuntary action of coughing and moving the blood out.  I have had it where it has only been a tablespoon or so but then I have also had a few ounces of blood.  In the event that the bleeding doesn’t stop you will have to have what is called Pulmonary embolization.  During an embolization they cauterize the blood vessels in the lungs that are causing the bleed in hopes to stop the bleeding.  It is scary to be sitting in the drive thru at McDonalds and suddenly have that pop and the blood comes or when you are sleeping or when you are sitting talking with friends.  There are times that you can have only a trace of blood or small amounts of blood in your sputum.  Small amounts can be caused by “ripping” mucus from the lung wall like a scab that bleeds.  No matter the amount blood from your lungs is never fun.

I have not had a collapsed lung but have friends that have and it is scary.  Anything that involves chest tubes is never fun.  You can have a percentage of a collapse, meaning it can not be all the way collapsed but only partial.

Whenever I have chest/lung pain I have to pin point where it is coming from and what is causing it because treatment is different for different kinds of pains.  There is muscle/skeletal pain from all the coughing, there is pleurisy pain from the fluid between the lung and chest wall, pain from an infection, sore lungs from bleeds, collapsed lung, etc.  It is all a guessing game.  CF keeps us on our toes, that’s for sure.

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