What We Treat

The experts at Mount Sinai’s Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine are skilled in diagnosing and treating a range of conditions affecting the lungs and respiratory system, including the following.

Airway Diseases

  • Asthma is an inflammation causing the airways of the lungs to swell, reducing air flow. Symptoms could be long-term or occur in isolated attacks, and include cough, wheezing, shortness of breath, and in emergent cases a bluish tinge to the face and rapid pulse. Triggers range from dust and pet dander to pollen and exercise. Diagnosis, monitoring, and treatments including rescue and long-term control medications are provided by the Mount Sinai Asthma Program.

  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a common lung condition that takes two main forms: chronic bronchitis (a lasting cough with mucus) and emphysema (the gradual deterioration of the lungs). Most COPD sufferers have both conditions. Typically caused by smoking, COPD symptoms include cough, repeated respiratory infections, fatigue, and shortness of breath, and can be treated with bronchodilators and anti-inflammatory medications. The Mount Sinai COPD Program can provide comprehensive evaluations for this disease.

  • Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic disorder in which thick mucus builds up in the lungs and digestive tract, which could cause life-threatening lung infections and severe digestive complications. Most diagnoses are made in children under the age of two, while some young adults aren’t diagnosed until age 18 or later, presenting a wide range of symptoms that include severe constipation, swollen belly, cough, fatigue, and nasal congestion. Our specialists within the Pediatric Pulmonology Program  provide a range of treatments, from antimicrobial strategies to nutritional optimization.

  • Bronchiolitis is mucus buildup and swelling in the bronchioles (the lungs’ smallest air passages), typically caused by a viral infection, and especially common in children under two years of age. It could begin as a mild upper respiratory infection with symptoms progressing to include wheezing and cyanosis (bluish skin caused by lack of oxygen). While most medications do not help, therapies ranging from breathing moist air to oxygen therapy may be recommended.

Lung Fibrosis (Interstitial) Disease

  • Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory condition in which abnormal clumps of cells (called granulomas) form in different areas of the body, most commonly affecting the lungs. Symptoms can range from swollen or discolored spots on the skin to vision problems, depending on what organs are affected; lung symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath, and a dry cough. While the disorder can clear up on its own, anti-inflammatory medications can be used to treat it. Therapies and support groups are available through Mount Sinai’s Sarcoidosis Program.

  • Pulmonary fibrosis is a condition where the lung tissue becomes scarred and thick, making it difficult for a person to breathe. In addition to shortness of shortness of breath, symptoms include tiredness and a dry cough. Our experts at the Pulmonary Fibrosis / Interstitial Lung Disease Program can help to diagnose this condition and provide options for preventing more lung scarring.

  • Wegener’s Granulomatosis is a rare condition believed to be an autoimmune disease in which blood vessels become inflamed, impeding blood flow. It can affect many areas of the body, including the lungs. Symptoms include frequent sinusitis, chronic ear infection, unexplained fever, fatigue, and night sweats. Treatment usually involves corticosteroids such as prednisone.

Cancer

  • Lung Cancer is a disease in which malignant cancer cells grow in the lungs, and could be one of two types: Non-small cell lung cancer (a common type that is typically slow growing) and small cell lung cancer (which grows more quickly is more likely to spread through the body). Symptoms could include a persistent or worsening cough, constant chest pain, and coughing up blood. Treatment options could include surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Our specialists at the Lung Screening Program can help assess your risk for lung cancer. Our specialists in the faculty practice associates can help assess pulmonary nodules that are commonly detected on lung screening exams.

  • Lung nodules are small masses of cells that can commonly grow in the lungs. While usually benign they could sometimes become malignant.

  • Mesothelioma is a rare cancer affecting the tissue (called the mesothelium) that lines the lungs and heart. Most commonly afflicting people whose occupations involve long-term inhalation of asbestos particles, the condition typically starts in the lungs and can be treated with radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery.

Lung Infections

  • Pneumonia is an infection by bacteria, virus, or fungi with symptoms that include cough, fever, shortness of breath, and chills. Types of pneumonia include aspiration pneumonia (occurring when materials such as foods or liquids from the mouth are breathed into the lungs) and pneumocystis pneumonia (occurring when a fungus infects an immune system weakened by diseases such as cancer and HIV).

  • Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection resulting from breathing air droplets from an infected person’s sneeze or cough. Symptoms could develop within weeks or longer after exposure, and include cough (that could bring up blood), excessive sweating, fever, fatigue, and weight loss.

Pleural Disease

  • Pleural effusion is a condition in which excess fluid builds up in the space between the two membranes (called pleura) that encase the lungs. Symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pain, stomach discomfort, and cough. Treatments range from supplemental oxygen to draining of the fluid.

Sleep Disorders

  • Sleep Apnea is a condition in which breathing is repeatedly disrupted during sleep for periods lasting between 10 and 30 seconds. Caused by an obstruction in the airway or a failure of the neurological system to signal muscles to breathe, apnea’s symptoms include daytime sleepiness, loud snoring, and repeated waking. Treatments include weight loss, wearing an air-blowing mask, and surgery. Sleep apnea is one of many sleep disorders treated at Mount Sinai’s Center for Sleep Medicine.

  • Snoring occurs when an obstruction in the airway causes tissue in the throat to vibrate loudly. Airway obstructions can result from decreased muscle tone in the tongue and throat and excess throat tissue due to obesity. Treatments range from weight loss to surgery to remove excess tissue. Our specialists at the Center for Sleep Medicine can recommend the best treatment option.

  • Insomnia is the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep. Poor sleep during the night can be a serious problem in itself and can result in decreased wakefulness, concentration and performance during the day. There are many causes of insomnia, most of which can be treated.

General Pulmonology

  • Lung nodules are small masses of cells that can commonly grow in the lungs. While usually benign they could sometimes become malignant.

  • Shortness of breath (also called dyspnea) is breathing difficulty caused by factors, including physical exertion, high elevations, and various medical conditions affecting the heart and lungs.

  • Cough is the sudden expulsion of air from the lungs, intended to clear out secretions and inhaled particles. Whether acute or chronic, a cough could be caused by factors ranging from exposure to irritants such as allergens to infections such as pneumonia.

Vascular Disease

  • Pulmonary embolism is the blockage of an artery in the lungs by a blood clot, which prevents blood from nourishing the affected section of lung tissue. The resulting lung damage could be fatal. Symptoms include shortness of breath, chest pain, feeling faint, and rapid heartbeat or breathing. Treatments range from blood thinning medications to surgery to remove the clot.

  • Pulmonary hypertension is a condition in which the pressure in the blood vessels of the lungs becomes too high, straining the right side of the heart (which supplies the lungs with blood), and increasing risk for heart failure. Symptoms include progressive shortness of breath, chronic fatigue, chronic cough, and fainting spells. Our Pulmonary Hypertension Program  provides comprehensive care center for patients afflicted with pulmonary hypertension. .

Critical Care

  • Sepsis develops when a high number of infectious agents enter the blood stream, often resulting from a burn or open wound, pneumonia, or a urinary tract infection. Symptoms include fever, pale skin color, changes in mental status, and increased heart rate. Our specialists in the Critical Care Program might recommend medication and surgery to treat this potentially fatal condition.

  • Shock occurs when inadequate blood supply threatens multiple organs, and could be caused by conditions ranging from congestive heart failure to sepsis. Symptoms include weakness, cool and clammy skin, low blood pressure, dilated pupils, and altered mental status. Treatment of this life-threatening condition includes breathing assistance, blood transfusions, and IV medications.

  • Respiratory failure occurs when the lungs fail to pass enough oxygen to the blood (thereby depriving organs of oxygen) or fail to remove carbon dioxide from the blood (thereby damaging organs). It can be caused by lung conditions including COPD, pneumonia, and pulmonary embolism, as well as spinal cord injuries, chest injuries, and drug or alcohol overuse. The condition may be acute or chronic, with symptoms ranging from shortness of breath and rapid breathing to a bluish skin color and mental confusion. Depending on the severity of the condition, treatments could range from an oxygen therapy mask to a tracheostomy (a surgically-made hole through the neck and into the windpipe fitted with a tube), to use of a ventilator.