Encyclopedia of Family Health - Vol. 3

By David B. Jacoby; Robert M. Youngson | Go to book overview

Chest

Questions and Answers

I am an avid gardener, but I get
pains in my chest after I have
been digging. Could this mean
that I have strained my heart?

Probably not, because most chest
pains are the result of muscle
strains in the chest wall. The chest
provides the platform from which
our arms and shoulders do all
their muscular work, so it is not
surprising that we sometimes strain
or pull the chest muscles. The clue
is usually the fact that a specific
movement or set of movements
will bring on the pain. To put your
mind at rest, see your doctor.

I broke my ribs playing basketball,
but I was not bandaged or given
any treatment. Why was this?

Although broken or cracked ribs
can be uncomfortable or painful,
the main danger is that the chest
movement will be reduced,
producing less airflow into and
out of the underlying lung. This
can cause pneumonia, so it is
unusual to bandage broken ribs.

My doctor says I am pigeon
chested. What is this? And am I
more likely to get chest infections?

Minor deformities of the chest
wall are often referred to as a
pigeon chest. The most common
form is a hollowing of the center
of the chest at the front, but this
does not mean that you are more
liable to chest infection.

Can people still die of pneumonia
as they did in the old days?

Unfortunately, yes. Pneumonia
used to be a common cause of
death not so many years ago,
even in healthy young people, but
generally this is no longer the
case. However, in people who are
seriously ill for some other reason,
or are elderly, pneumonia is often
the final illness that kills them.

The bony, muscular structure of the chest forms a protective framework
around two of the body’s most important organs, the lungs and the heart.
It is essential to know when a cough or chest pain needs medical attention
.

The chest is a bony cage that contains two of the most important organs in the body: the lungs and the heart. The basic function of these organs is to transfer oxygen from the air to the tissues, where it is essential for the continuation of life (see Heart; Lung and Lung Diseases).

The bell-shaped rib cage is located just under the skin of the chest. It encloses the lungs and heart on all but their lowest surface, it is attached to the spine at the back, and its base is sealed off by the diaphragm, the thick muscular sheet separating the chest from the abdomen. In between the ribs are further muscular sheets called the intercostal (“between the ribs”) muscles. The chest wall thus consists of a bell-shaped muscular bag with the ribs as struts. By expanding and contracting it sucks air in and out through the windpipe, or trachea, which emerges into the neck.

A membrane called the pleura lines the whole of the inside of the chest, and similar membranes cover the lungs and the heart. When the pleura becomes inflamed, this leads to pleurisy.

The two lungs fill the bulk of the chest and are connected by their tubes, the main bronchi, to the trachea. Smaller tubes, or bronchioles, split off from each main bronchus like branches of a tree, carrying air to the air sacs (alveoli). Here oxygen is extracted from the air and passed into the blood, while carbon dioxide—the body’s waste product—moves in the opposite direction.

The heart lies at the front of the chest between the two lungs, inside its own membranous bag. It receives blood from the body through the pumping chambers on its right side (the right atrium

-347-

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Encyclopedia of Family Health - Vol. 3
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Bronchitis 294
  • Brucellosis 297
  • Bruises 298
  • Bunions 299
  • Burn Center 301
  • Burns 303
  • Burping 306
  • Bursitis 307
  • Calcium 310
  • Cancer 312
  • Capillaries 318
  • Cardiac Massage 320
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome 322
  • Cartilage 324
  • Cataracts 326
  • Celiac Disease 329
  • Cells and Chromosomes 330
  • Cellular Telephones 333
  • Cerebral Palsy 335
  • Cervix and Cervical Smears 337
  • Cesarean Birth 340
  • Chat Room 343
  • Chelation Therapy 345
  • Chest 347
  • Chicken Pox 349
  • Child Abuse 351
  • Child Development 354
  • Chinese Medicine 358
  • Chiropractic 362
  • Cholera 365
  • Cholesterol 366
  • Chorionic Villus Sampling 367
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome 369
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 370
  • Circulatory System 372
  • Circumcision 374
  • Cirrhosis 375
  • Cleft Palate 376
  • Cloning 377
  • Clubfoot 379
  • Cocaine and Crack 380
  • Cold Sores 382
  • Colon and Colitis 383
  • Colonic Irrigation 384
  • Colonoscopy 386
  • Color Blindness 388
  • Color Therapy 390
  • Colostomy 392
  • Coma 394
  • Common Cold 396
  • Complexes and Compulsions 397
  • Conception 399
  • Congenital Disorders 401
  • Conjunctivitis 403
  • Constipation 404
  • Contact Lenses 406
  • Contraception 407
  • Convalescence 412
  • Convulsions 413
  • Coordination 414
  • Cornea 416
  • Corns 417
  • Coronary Arteries and Thrombosis 419
  • Cosmetics 422
  • Cosmetic Surgery 424
  • Coughing 426
  • Cough Syrup 427
  • Counseling 428
  • Index 431
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