Is Lung Infection a Sign of Cancer?
A lung infection, like pneumonia, is a common side effect of lung cancer. Learn how to manage the symptoms, treatment options, and types of lung infections.
Lung Infection – Does Lung Cancer Cause Lung Infections?
If you are experiencing critical lung complications, you may have a lung infection. Understanding how a lung infection is a sign of lung cancer will make it easier to receive treatment and manage your symptoms. A lung infection occurs when a virus, bacteria, or fungus causes lung inflammation, leading to an infection. Infection can occur in one or both lungs due to various infection types. Inflammation can range from mild to severe, so there are several lung infection treatment options.
The signs of a lung infection can vary, but if you are experiencing cold or flu-like symptoms that last, you may know you have a lung infection. The most common lung infection symptoms in adults include:
- Thick mucous cough
- Sharp chest pain
- High fever
- Body aches
- Shortness of breath
- Runny nose
- Lung pain in back
- Bluish color of lips or skin
It is estimated that over half of lung cancer patients develop lung infections. This stunning fact is because lung cancer patients have a weakened immune system and are more likely to contract complications. Additionally, lung infections can be challenging to fight due to your weakened system. It is imperative for your health to understand the intricacies of lung infections and their relation to lung cancer. Read on to learn about types of lung infections, treatment options, and how infection can affect diseases like mesothelioma, non-small cell lung cancer, and small cell lung cancer.
How Can You Tell If It’s Lung Infection or Lung Cancer?
Chest cancer often begins in one lung and metastasizes to the other lung or surrounding body parts. Metastasis occurs when cancer grows and moves from its place of origin in the body. When cancer metastasis occurs, symptoms often become more severe and generalized. Different stages of lung cancer and chest infections are very similar and can easily be confused.
Symptoms of lung cancer and lung infections include similarities such as:
- Muscle weakness
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Fatigue or exhaustion
- Swollen lymph nodes
Although the two sets of symptoms are similar, these two conditions are different. Unexpected symptoms of lung cancer that are not associated with lung infections include:
- Unexplained weight loss
- Bone pain
- Low levels of sodium and potassium
There are also symptoms of lung infection that are not associated with lung cancer like:
- Excessive sweating
Types of Lung Infections
Several factors could cause a lung infection, including bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Common viral or bacterial lung infections include pneumonia, bronchitis, and bronchiolitis. Fungal infections occur more rarely but can still infect the lungs. Fungi that often cause lung infections are Pneumocystis jirovecii, Aspergillus, and Histoplasma capsulatum. Some of the most common types of lung infections are pneumonia, bronchitis, and bronchiolitis.
Pneumonia is one of the most prevalent lung infections. According to the CDC, in the U.S. over 1.5 million people were diagnosed with pneumonia in the emergency department and over 40,00 people died from pneumonia in 2018. This type of lung infection can be caused by:
- Bacteria like Streptococcus pneumonia, Haemophilus influenzae, and Mycoplasma pneumoniae
- Viruses such as the influenza virus, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), or the virus that causes coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19)
These infections affect the air sacs in the lungs, inflaming them and causing them to fill with fluid or pus. This can lead to phlegmy cough, fever, chills, and difficulty breathing.
In 2018, 9 million adults reported having chronic bronchitis. Bronchitis occurs when an infection enters the bronchi, the primary airways of the lungs. When someone has bronchitis, their lungs become irritated and inflamed. Common signs of bronchitis include yellow mucus, cough, sore throat, and wheezing. Bronchitis is often caused by:
- Influenza virus
- Mycoplasma pneumoniae
- Chlamydia pneumoniae
- Bordetella pertussis
Bronchiolitis is another common pulmonary infection. This infection occurs when the bronchioles, the smallest air passages in the lungs, become inflamed. There are a variety of bronchiolitis causes; however, RSV is the most common cause of this infection. RSV affects more than 64 million people annually, leaving millions at risk for bronchiolitis.
Lung Infections Treatment Options
Lung infections can last a long time if not treated properly. A bacterial infection often requires antibiotics to remedy pain and associated symptoms. If you have a fungal infection, your doctor may prescribe you antifungal medication. On the other hand, if you have a viral infection, you will likely have to wait until your body fights the infection naturally or the lung infection goes away on its own.
At-home remedies for lung infections include:
- Take acetaminophen
- Stay hydrated
- Drink hot tea
- Gargle salt water
- Stay rested
- Use a humidifier
You may need to visit a hospital for severe lung infections or symptoms associated with lung cancer or mesothelioma. You may need to receive antibiotics, intravenous (IV) fluids, or respiratory therapy. If you have more severe lung cancer symptoms, you may also need palliative treatments. Palliative therapy may include breathwork, meditation, massages for pain, and late-stage curative efforts.
What to Do If You Have a Mesothelioma Lung Infection
If you have a mesothelioma or lung cancer lung infection, you are likely exhausted and in pain. Lung Cancer Center can help you find therapy to ease your pain at the top cancer medical centers. Additionally, we can answer difficult questions about infection and lung cancer or mesothelioma. Get the help you need by contacting our compassionate and knowledgeable team members.