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Lung Granuloma: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

Medically Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on July 31, 2020

Granulomas are small lumps of immune cells that form in your body in areas where there is infection or inflammation. They’re most commonly found in your lungs, but they can also be in other areas of your head and body. Doctors believe that they block the spread of organisms such as bacteria and fungi through your body.

Granulomas are usually accidently found through X-rays or other tests when doctors look for other health issues. At first, they may look dangerous on imaging tests, but they’re usually noncancerous.

Symptoms of Lung Granulomas

Granulomas themselves don’t usually have noticeable symptoms. But the conditions that cause them, such as sarcoidosis, tuberculosis, histoplasmosis, and others, may create symptoms. Some of these include:

In some cases, you may have lung granulomas that show no abnormal signs. They don’t usually need treatment or other testing.

Causes of Lung Granulomas

Reasons for granulomas in your lungs include:

  • Sarcoidosis. This is a disease that can affect your lungs and other organs. Researchers don’t know the exact cause, but they think granulomas form when your immune system tries to fight off harmful infections, chemicals, or sometimes your body’s own proteins. There’s no cure, but you can usually manage it with little or no treatment.
  • Tuberculosis. A bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis can attack the lungs and cause this disease. Granulomas can form in the lungs and stop the growth of the bacteria. But they can also allow bacteria to live and spread later.
  • Histoplasmosis. A fungus that is often found in bird and bat droppings can cause this lung infection if you breathe it in. Granulomas will form to stop the spread of the fungus. If you have histoplasmosis, you may never have symptoms. But for people with weak immune systems, it can be serious.
  • Granulomatosis with polyangiitis. This condition causes inflammation in your lungs and other parts of your body. It’s a blood vessel disorder that slows down the flow of blood to your organs. Once this happens, the tissues around that area swell up and form granulomas. These granulomas can keep the affected organs from working properly.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis. This is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation that can harm healthy cells. It can affect tissue all over your body.

 

Diagnosis of Lung Granulomas

Granulomas are usually found during a doctor’s visit for something else. If your doctor thinks that you may have lung granulomas, they’ll look at your medical history to see if there are any conditions that could cause inflammation. You may have to have a CAT scan or X-ray. These scans will show if your body has formed growths on your lungs.

Treatments of Lung Granulomas

In rare cases, a granuloma doesn’t heal and the lung tissue around it can scar (pulmonary fibrosis). Or the air tubes in your lungs (bronchi) can form pockets and get infected. When this happens, there isn’t a cure, but there are treatments that can ease your symptoms.

Granulomas on your lungs usually heal themselves and go away. The best way to control lung granulomas is to care for the health issues that cause them.

WebMD Medical Reference

Sources

SOURCES:

Mayo Clinic: “Granuloma: What does it mean?” “Sarcoidosis,” “Histoplasmosis,” “Granulomatosis with polyangiitis,” “Pulmonary fibrosis.”

CDC: “Signs & Symptoms” (Tuberculosis), “Basic TB Facts,” “Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA).”

Frontiers in Immunology: “The Granuloma in Tuberculosis: Dynamics of a Host-Pathogen Collusion.”

HealthDirect: “Granulomas.”

Johns Hopkins Medicine: “Pulmonary Sarcoidosis.”

Case Reports in Rheumatology: “Sarcoidosis and Histoplasmosis: Is One a Consequence of the Other? A Case Report and Review of the Literature.”

JAAD Case Reports: “Multiple granulomatous dermatitides in a patient with rheumatoid arthritis.”

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology: “Chronic Granulomatous Disease (CGD).”

European Respiratory Society: “From granuloma to fibrosis in interstitial lung diseases: molecular and cellular interactions.”

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