Respiratory diseases

Respiratory diseases


A respiratory disease (sometimes called a lung disorder or a pulmonary disease) is one that affects the lungs and/or other parts of the respiratory system. The respiratory system (also called the respiratory tract) is comprised of the organs involved in breathing. These include the nose, throat, larynx, trachea, bronchi, and lungs. Respiratory diseases may be caused by infection, by smoking tobacco, or by breathing in secondhand tobacco smoke, radon, asbestos, or other forms of air pollution. Respiratory diseases include asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pulmonary fibrosis, Sarcoidosis, pulmonary hypertension, pneumonia, and lung cancer. There are three main types of respiratory diseases: airway respiratory disease, lung tissue disease, and lung circulation disease. Many repiratory diseases involve a combination of these three types.

Asthma and COPD are examples of an airway respiratory disease. These diseases affect the tubes (airways) that carry oxygen and other gases into and out of the lungs. They usually cause a narrowing or blockage of the airways. People with airway diseases often say they feel as if they're 'trying to breathe out through a straw.'

Pulmonary fibrosis and sarcoidosis are lung tissue diseases. These diseases affect the structure of the lung tissue. Scarring or inflammation of the tissue makes the lungs unable to expand fully (restrictive lung disease). This makes it hard for the lungs to take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide. People with this type of lung disorder often say they feel as if they are 'wearing a too-tight sweater or vest.' As a result, they can't breathe deeply.

Pulmonary hypertension is a lung circulation disease. These diseases affect the blood vessels in the lungs. They are caused by clotting, scarring, or inflammation of the blood vessels. They affect the ability of the lungs to take up oxygen and release carbon dioxide. These diseases may also affect heart function. People with these conditions often feel very short of breath when they exert themselves.

Adapted from National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Cancer Institute (NCI), NCI Dictionary of Cancer Terms at https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/def/respiratory-diseaseandAdapted from MedlinePlus, Medical Encyclopedia, Lung Diseases at https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000066.htm