Psoriasis in the Lungs: Symptoms, Complications and Prognosis

About Psoriasis In The Lungs

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder that primarily affects the skin. It is primarily characterized by patches of inflamed red scaly skin rashes. However, Psoriasis can also affect other parts of the body including the lungs. Psoriasis is a condition which causes the white blood cells to go into overdrive and start producing chemicals that cause skin inflammation. Aside from skin, this inflammation can also inflict damage to the lungs as well[1, 2, 3].

Some researchers are of the opinion that psoriasis is also associated with insulin resistance which then causes disruption of metabolic activity in the body causing a variety of problems including obesity, hyperglycemia and hypertension. All these factors increase the likelihood of a person developing medical conditions which affect the lungs.

Some researchers also believe that medications given for psoriasis that suppress the immune system also at times can cause problems with the lungs[1, 2, 3].

What Are The Symptoms Of Psoriasis In The Lungs?

Every lung condition, even those caused by psoriasis, has its own set of symptoms and features, although many of the symptoms are common. It is always helpful to have knowledge of the symptoms of lung disease caused due to psoriasis at early diagnosis and treatment is vital for a good overall prognosis. A person with pulmonary manifestation of psoriasis will have the following symptoms[3].

Difficulty Breathing: This is the first sign of a pulmonary problem. This may indicate a serious issue and should not be ignored[3].

Chest Pain: A person with problems with lungs due to psoriasis will have chest pain with inspiration and expiration. Additionally, coughing or sneezing will also cause the person to have chest pain[3].

Persistent Cough: If a person has cough that lasts for more than two months relentlessly then it indicates a problem with the lungs. A visit to a physician is warranted in cases if the cough is productive of blood and sputum[3].

Wheezing: If a person is noted to have wheezing persistently then it indicates that the airways are narrowed and it becomes tough for air to move through the respiratory system[3].

Chronic Mucus Production: Production of excessive mucous is also an indicator of a problem with the lungs of a person, especially if it lasts for more than a month[3]. Aside from these warning signs, there are also certain risk factors that increase the likelihood of a person developing lung problems due to psoriasis. These include[3]

Smoking: If a person has a known diagnosis of psoriasis then it is vital for the person to stop smoking as it increases the risk of pulmonary complications including COPD, pneumonia, and even cancer. Psoriasis in fact makes the symptoms of these diseases more severe. This is a factor that can be controlled by avoiding active smoking and staying away from secondhand smoke[3].

Allergens: Exposure to certain allergens or irritants in the environment or at the place of work can also increase the risk of pulmonary conditions due to psoriasis. Common irritants include dust, smoke, animal droppings, certain chemicals, asbestos, and radiation. All of these affect the respiratory system and puts the person at risk for various pulmonary conditions. It is best wear a mask when an individual feels that he or she is at risk for exposure to such irritants[3].

Genetic Makeup: This also plays an important role in the development of lung conditions as a result of psoriasis. If a person has a family history of pulmonary problems then in all likelihood he or she will also develop it at some point in time, especially if they have a known diagnosis of psoriasis[3].

Medications: Medications that are given to treat autoimmune conditions like psoriasis can increase the risk of developing pulmonary problems. Additionally, there are some medications that are given for cardiac conditions and certain antibiotics that also increase the chances of a person having lung problems[3].

What Are The Complications Of Psoriasis In The Lungs?

Research suggests that a person with psoriasis is more than likely to develop the following medical conditions involving the lungs. These conditions include

COPD: This is a group of pulmonary conditions which affect normal flow of air to the lungs making it tough for a person to breathe. A study done in 2015 concluded that a person with psoriasis had increased risk for developing COPD. This risk magnified in people with severe form of psoriasis[3].

Pulmonary Sarcoidosis: Research has also suggested a possible link between psoriasis and pulmonary sarcoidosis. This is a condition characterized by development of abnormal masse of inflamed tissue in the lungs called granulomas. There have been various studies done that have shown a clear association between psoriasis and increased risk for pulmonary sarcoidosis[3].

Interstitial Lung Disease: This is a group of disorders that cause scarring of the lungs. These disorders inflict significant and often permanent damage to the lungs. A study done in 2017 suggested that there is an increased risk of developing interstitial lung disease in people with a known diagnosis of psoriasis, especially idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. It was also noted in the study that the increased risk was not due to the medications or immune suppressants that were given to manage the symptoms of psoriasis[3].

What Is The Prognosis Of Psoriasis In The Lungs?

Any person with a diagnosis of psoriasis is at risk for developing lung problems. While some of these conditions may be managed there are conditions like interstitial lung disease which cause permanent damage to the lungs. The reason behind this increased risk is because of the inflammatory nature of psoriasis which can extend beyond the skin to other vital organs of the body including the lungs[3].

The best way forward is to consult with a physician about the various risk factors that come along with psoriasis. Changing certain lifestyle habits like quitting smoking is also quite helpful in decreasing the risk of pulmonary complications that may arise due to psoriasis[3].

It should be noted however that not every person with diagnosed psoriasis goes on to develop lung problems but since there is always an increased risk it is best to take preventive measures and get a grip of the various risk factors by consulting a physician and discussing about it[3].

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