Scar Tissue in Lungs Causes, Symptoms, From Bronchitis, From Radiation, After Pneumonia, After Pulmonary Embolism and From Blood Clots

An insight into scar tissue in lungs causes, symptoms, from bronchitis, from radiation, after pneumonia, after pulmonary embolism and from blood clots

Scar tissue in lungs causes

Pulmonary fibrosis scars and also thickens at the tissue around and also between the air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs. This makes it very much difficult for the oxygen to pass into bloodstream. The damage might be brought about by several different factors — which include long-term exposure to some toxins, certain of the medical conditions, radiation therapy as well as medications.

scar tissue in lungs

scar tissue in lungs

Occupational and environmental factors

Long-term exposure to several toxins and pollutants might lead to tissue in lungs. These include:

  • Silica dust
  • Asbestos fibers
  • Coal dust
  • Bird and animal droppings

Radiation treatments

Some of the people who have received radiation therapy for lung cancer indicate signs of lung damage months or even sometimes years after initial treatment. The severity of the damage largely depends on:

  • How much of the lung was exposed to the radiation
  • The total amount of radiation that was administered
  • Whether chemotherapy was used
  • The presence of any underlying lung disease

Scar tissue in lungs symptoms

Signs and symptoms of the tissue in lungs include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • A dry cough
  • Fatigue
  • Aching muscles and joints
  • Widening and rounding of tips of the fingers or toes

The course of tissue in lungs — as well as the severity of symptoms — might largely vary considerably from one individual to another. Some people can also become ill quickly with severe disease. Others have very moderate symptoms which worsen more slowly, over several months or even years.

Some people can experience a rapid worsening of symptoms (acute exacerbation), like severe shortness of breath, which can last for many days to some weeks. People who have very acute exacerbations might be placed on a ventilator. Doctors can prescribe antibiotics, corticosteroid medications or medications that can treat an acute exacerbation.

Scar tissue in lungs from bronchitis

Chronic bronchitis is a lung disease which leads to a cough with increased mucus production for at least a period of two months in two consecutive years.  It generally falls under the category of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The most common cause is usually cigarette smoking, although inhalation of the irritants at work, air pollution as well as the lung infections might also lead to it.  Considering most of the people develop the disease because of exposure to cigarette smoke.

It’s helpful to know the basics of airway anatomy, which is usually covered in the pithy post “Your Journey down the Respiratory Tract.” Knowledge of the lung anatomy is very important due to the long-term exposure to the inhaled cigarette smoke that can cause changes inside the airways thus tissue in lungs.

scar tissue in lungs

scar tissue in lungs

These changes include:

  1.  Bronchial mucous glands become bigger:  This usually leads to increased mucus or even secretion production that is inside the lungs.
  2.   Goblet cells increase in number:  This also leads to increased mucus production.
  3.  Bronchial walls become inflamed:  This is because of the repeated exposure to harmful chemicals of the cigarette smoke.  These particular chemicals injure the walls, and body’s attempt to fix them makes them to be inflamed or even swollen.  Common treatments are inhaled corticosteroids like the Qvar, Pulmicort and Symbicort. Systemic corticosteroids are sometimes required.
  4.  Bronchial walls become thick and scarred:  This is normally known as airway remodeling.  It happens when inflammation lasts for a long time when the body tries to fix it.  This leads to the scar tissue, making the airways to be fibrotic, or even stiff. This damage is usually permanent and there is no given treatment for it.
  5.  Cilia lining bronchial walls disappear: Cilia are fine, hair-like structures which act as an escalator so as to bring mucus to upper airway where it can either be swallowed, coughed up, or even spit up.  Lacking cilia, then the airway has a very tough time moving mucus to upper airway, leading to mucus buildup in lungs.
  6.  Mucus plugging in the smaller airways: This implies that dried up secretions block air passages thus tissue in lungs.
  7.  Bronchospasm:  Inflamed airways are very sensitive to some triggers (like the inhaled irritants, and also strong smells) that can lead to flare-ups.  This might cause the muscles that are wrapping around the airways to spasm.  Flare-ups are usually discussed in the recent post “COPD flare-up causes.”Treatment include albuterol, levalbuterol, ipatropium bromide, Duoneb, theophylline, formoterol and Symbicort.
  8.  Airway obstruction/ narrowing: The combination of the increased mucus, mucus plugging, inflammation, as well as bronchospasm leads to the air passages becoming permanently narrowed and also frequently obstructed.   Air traveling through the narrowed or even obstructed airways might lead to a wheeze.
  9. Air Trapping:  Air may also get past an obstruction in airway, but also has a hard time getting out.  In other words, people who are suffering from this can feel like they can’t get any air in, but the truth is they can’t get the air out. This leads to a prolonged exhalation.  A good treatment method that is used for tissue in lungs due to this is to exhale through the pursed lips, hence allowing time for trapped air to get out.

Scar tissue in lungs from radiation

Lung damage is a side effect due to some cancer treatments. This particular damage might include inflammation, which usually reduces the amount of oxygen that an individual can absorb or scarring, which then reduces the amount of air that you can breathe.

Both of these leads to uncomfortable symptoms, which include shortness of breath and also some amount of fatigue. Treatment for lung damage is basically aimed at relieving of the symptoms.

Chemotherapy as well as the radiation therapy can both lead to lung toxicity. One of the ways which the radiation as well as chemotherapy drugs can damage cells is through formation of the free radicals. Free radicals are usually unstable molecules which are formed during several normal cellular processes involving oxygen, like burning fuel for energy.

They are formed from exposure to elements in environment, such as tobacco smoke, radiation as well as chemotherapy drugs. The free radical damage that emanate from radiation as well as chemotherapy is worse in the lungs due to the high concentration of oxygen.

Any chemotherapy drug is able to lead to tissue in lungs. Radiation to chest cavity commonly leads to lung toxicity. Cancers that can be treated using radiation to chest cavity include breast cancer, and Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Symptoms might not occur until about 3 months after radiation treatment.

The chemotherapy drugs which have been reported to lead to tissue in lungs include:

  • Arsenic trioxide
  • Bleomycin
  • Idarubicin

What are the symptoms of lung toxicity?
Symptoms that you can experience if you have damage to the lungs are:

  • Breathlessness during exercise
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Discomfort or worsening symptoms while lying on your back

Notify your doctor immediately if you have any of these symptoms.
How are lung toxicities managed?
While there is no specific treatment that is used to reverse tissue in lungs, the doctor might prescribe therapies to assist in managing of the symptoms of lung toxicity.

  • Corticosteroids:Steroids work by decreasing inflammation as well as relieving the cough and some of the pain associated with lung toxicity.
  • Oxygen therapy:Your doctor can prescribe supplemental oxygen, largely depending on the severity of symptoms, and also the activity level. Oxygen is generated by a machine and then delivered through a tube which you wear around the neck or face.


A small, portable canister might also be used that you carry or even wheel on a cart.  Some of the patients might only require oxygen at night while sleeping. Patients who have received bleomycin are at greater risk of developing the lung damage when they are given very high concentrations of oxygen, as with the general anesthesia.

  • Narcotics:These powerful pain medications calm the breathing center in brain, thus relieving shortness of breath. An example of the narcotic is morphine.
  • Pulmonary (lung) rehabilitation:Some of the medical hospitals provide a multi-disciplinary approach to management of the tissue in lungs. These particular programs include medical prescriptions, education, exercise, breathing retraining as well as nutritional counseling to assist an individual gain control of breathing and thus restore your highest possible function.

Scar tissue in lungs after pneumonia

When tissue in lungs develops, there is usually an inflammation of air passages that are beyond the windpipe. Part of your immune response results in formation of the mucus as well as catarrh, which takes some weeks so as to clear.

scar tissue in lungs

scar tissue in lungs

Usually, this can be mopped-up by your defensive mechanisms so that you do not develop the pneumonia every time you are exposed to common cold.

If the attacking bacteria or even the virus is very aggressive, or you are run down and immuno-suppressed, the bug can then multiply rapidly so as to invade a whole area of the lung tissue.

This might happen in an entire lobe of lung or even be scattered throughout the lungs in bronchopneumonia. When the lining of the lung is affected, the infective process can lead to the lung to adhering to the pleura so as to produce the pain of pleurisy.

Then, as the condition is walled off by the defending white blood cells, the inflammatory response can sometimes lead to tissue in lungs.

It is likely that an area of an infection within the lung might be contained by body’s immune response and that scar tissue might develop.

These changes will produce an appearance of the scar tissue in lungs on an X-ray of the chest.

In time, the infection as well as inflammatory response might subside. The scarring will then diminish steadily as time goes by, and there might be a corresponding improvement in the air entry to damaged lung, and then a return towards normal lung function.

In most of this circumstances the scarring can then diminish, even if it does not entirely disappear after pneumonia.

Scar tissue in lungs after pulmonary embolism

The course of events largely depends on size of clot leading to the pulmonary embolism.

  • Small to medium pulmonary embolism: cut off circulation to a part of lung, and cause shortness of breath because of the hypoxia. In 12% of cases, the region of lung that is supplied by blocked artery dies because of the inadequate blood flow. This can eventually heal with the fibrous scar.
  • Massive pulmonary embolism: If a large clot forms, in one of the pelvic or even the large abdominal veins, it may embolise in main pulmonary artery, thus blocking off almost all the blood flow to lungs. This leads to the back-pressure on right side of the heart, leading to a reduction in amount of blood that is pumped from the heart into lungs, and right heart failure. These particular changes to heart might occur suddenly (massive pulmonary embolism), or slowly, because of the recurrent pulmonary emboli.

Scar tissue in lungs from blood clots

Lung scars emanate from an injury to lung. They usually have several causes, and nothing is able to be done once lung tissue is largely scarred. But, lungs are mostly resilient and may endure small noninvasive scars that have no ill effects.

Doctors usually don’t treat tissue in lungs that are stable. Removal isn’t needed, even if the scar is increasing in size. In this particular situation, the doctor might treat the underlying condition leading to the scar and slow or even stop its progression.

Small areas of the tissue in lungs usually aren’t serious. They shouldn’t affect your quality of life or even your life expectancy.

That said, widespread as well as expanding scar tissue in lungs can indicate an underlying health condition. This particular underlying condition can then affect your quality of life and also your overall health. In these particular cases, the doctor might then determine the source of scarring and deal then with it directly.

In the extreme cases of scar tissue in lungs, doctors might have to surgically replace the lung. This is known as a lung scarring. Most people with lung scarring won’t require a transplant. This is due to the fact that several lung scars don’t continue to grow or actively harm lungs. Symptoms may be managed without surgery.

In cases where the scar tissue in lungs is very much severe, like in pulmonary fibrosis, your doctor might then recommend a lung transplant. In this particular procedure, an unhealthy lung is then replaced with a healthy lung that is donated from another person.

Lung transplants may be performed on one or even both lungs that are affected by scar tissue in lungs and on all people without health problems up to age of 65. Some of the healthy people over this age may be candidates also.

Lung transplants do carry some short-term risks, which include:

  • rejection of the new lung, although this risk is usually reduced by selecting a good match and also proper preparation of immune system
  • blockage of airways and blood vessels from the lungs
  • fluid filling the lung
  • blood clots and bleeding
  • infection



  1. Pulmonary fibrosis:
  2. How Chronic Bronchitis Affects the Lungs:
  3. Lung Damage:
  4. Side Effects of Radiation Therapy:
  5. What happens after pneumonia:
  6. Lung Scarring: Is Removal Necessary:




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