Respiratory Disease

Respiratory diseases are the diseases of the respiratory system which include the pleural cavity, lung, trachea, bronchial tubes, upper respiratory tract and the muscles and nerves for breathing. A respiratory disease can be mild or self-limiting like common colds or it can be life-threatening such as pulmonary embolism or bacterial pneumonia. They are the common cause of illness and deaths. Pulmonology is the study of respiratory diseases and the doctor who specializes in respiratory diseases is called a pulmonologist.

Types of Respiratory Diseases

Classification of respiratory diseases varies depending on the organ involved, the cause of disease and symptom patterns. It is advised to always be careful with foods because some can cause allergic reactions and provoke breathing difficulties. Fatty fishes, sea prawns, arrow root, raddish, moong dhal, peanuts, ladys finger, water content spinach, bananas, grapes, curds, berries, pomegranates, ice creams, custard apples, etc. Bad weather conditions may also trigger some respiratory diseases.

· Inflammatory Lung Disease

Respiratory DiseaseIt is characterized by a high neutrophil count which is also seen in cystic fibrosis, asthma, COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema and acute respiratory distress syndrome.

· Obstructive Lung Diseases

Obstructive lung disease is defined as narrowing of the bronchial tubes making it difficult for the air to move in and out of the lungs

· COPD or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and Asthma

They are examples of obstructive lung disease where in the air ways are narrowed.

· Restrictive Lung Disease

Also called as interstitial lung disease, is characterized by a loss of lung compliance which causes incomplete lung expansion and increases the stiffness in the lung. An example is Infant Respiratory Distress Syndrome.

· Respiratory Tract Infections

It is an infection affecting any part of the respiratory tract and is divided into upper and lower respiratory tract.

Common colds are the most common condition associated with upper respiratory tract infection. Tonsillitis, sinusitis, pharyngitis, otitis media and laryngitis are also considered as upper respiratory tract infections.

Pneumonia is the most common condition associated with lower respiratory tract infection. It is caused by bacteria, Streptococcus Pneumoniae. In severe cases, it can develop into lung abcess and can spread to the pleural cavity.

· Respiratory Tumors such as malignant and benign tumors are the cancers in the lungs.

Diagnostic Tests

To determine the kind of respiratory disease a person is experiencing, the following diagnostic tests are done.

· Pulmonary function test

· Chest x-ray

· CT scan

· Sputum culture to detect certain microorganisms

· Lung pleura biopsy

· Bronchoscopy

· Ventilation – perfusion scan

· Ultrasound scanning to detect pleural effusion


The treatment depends on the kind of disease presented and its severity.

· Medications that are often inhaled:

· Bronchodilators

· Corticosteroids

· Anticoagulants

· Antibiotics

· Cancer chemotherapy

· Immune suppressants

· Oxygen

· Physiotherapy

· Liquid ventilation

· Mechanical ventilation

· Surfactant replacement therapy

· Radiotherapy

· Surgery

· Pneumonectomy and lobectomy for cancer removal

· Pleurodesis

· Lung transplantation

· Lung volume reduction surgery

· Artificial lung

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