List Of Respiratory Diseases
Respiratory disease is the term for diseases of the respiratory system. These include diseases of the lung, pleural cavity, bronchial tubes, trachea, upper respiratory tract and of the nerves and muscles of breathing. Respiratory diseases range from mild and self-limiting such as the common cold to life-threatening such as bacterial pneumonia or pulmonary embolism. They are a common and important cause of illness and death. In the US, people suffer 1 billion colds per year. One in seven people in the UK are affected by some form of chronic lung disease, most commonly chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma.
Respiratory disease is responsible for over 10% of hospitalizations and over 16% of deaths in Canada (including lung cancer). The study of respiratory disease is known as pulmonology. A doctor who specializes in respiratory disease is known as a pulmonologist, a chest medicine specialist, a respiratory medicine specialist, a respirologist or a thoracic medicine specialist.
Inflammatory lung disease
Characterised by a high neutrophil count, e.g. asthma, cystic fibrosis, emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder or acute respiratory distress syndrome.
Obstructive lung diseases
Obstructive lung diseases are diseases of the lung where the bronchial tubes become narrowed making it hard to move air in and especially out of the lung.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), an example of an obstrutive lung disease, is where the airways become damaged, causing them to narrow.
Asthma is another example of an obstructive lung disease, (and of an inflammatory lung disease).
Restrictive lung diseases
Restrictive lung diseases (also known as interstitial lung diseases) are a category of respiratory disease characterized by a loss of lung compliance, causing incomplete lung expansion and increased lung stiffness. E.g. in infant respiratory distress syndrome (IRDS).
Respiratory tract infections
Infections can affect any part of the respiratory system. They are traditionally divided into upper respiratory tract infections and lower respiratory tract infections.
Upper respiratory tract infection
The most common upper respiratory tract infection is the common cold however, infections of specific organs of the upper respiratory tract such as sinusitis, tonsillitis, otitis media, pharyngitis and laryngitis are also considered upper respiratory tract infections.
Lower respiratory tract infection
The most common lower respiratory tract infection in is pneumonia, a lung infection. Pneumonia is usually caused by bacteria, particularly Streptococcus pneumoniae in Western countries. Worldwide, tuberculosis is an important cause of pneumonia. Other pathogens such as viruses and fungi can cause pneumonia for example severe acute respiratory syndrome and pneumocystis pneumonia. A pneumonia may develop complications such as a lung abscess, a round cavity in the lung caused by the infection, or may spread to the pleural cavity.
Tumours of the respiratory system are either malignant or benign.
Malignant tumours, or cancers of the respiratory system, particularly lung cancers, are a major health problem responsible for 15% of all cancer diagnoses and 29% of all cancer deaths. The majority of respiratory system cancers are attributable to smoking tobacco.
The major types of respiratory system cancer are:
In addition, since many cancers spread via the bloodstream and the entire cardiac output passes through the lungs, it is common for cancer metastases to occur within the lung. Breast cancer may invade directly through local spread, and through lymph node metastases. After metastasis to the liver, colon cancer frequently metastasizes to the lung. Prostate cancer, germ cell cancer and renal cell carcinoma may also metastasize to the lung.
Treatment of respiratory system cancer depends on the type of cancer. Surgery (usually removal of part of the lung, a lobectomy or an entire lung, a pneumonectomy), chemotherapy and radiotherapy are all used. The chance of surviving lung cancer depends on the cancer stage at the time the cancer is diagnosed and is only about 14-17% overall. In the case of metastases to the lung, treatment can occasionally be curative but only in certain, rare circumstances.
Benign tumours are relatively rare causes of respiratory disease. Examples of benign tumours are:
Pleural cavity diseases
Pleural cavity diseases include emphysema and mesothelioma which are mentioned above.
A collection of fluid in the pleural cavity is known as a pleural effusion. This may be due to fluid shifting from the bloodstream into the pleural cavity due to conditions such as congestive heart failure and cirrhosis. It may also be due to inflammation of the pleura itself as can occur with infection, pulmonary embolus, tuberculosis, mesothelioma and other conditions.
A pneumothorax is a hole in the pleura covering the lung allowing air in the lung to escape into the pleural cavity. The affected lung “collapses” like a deflated balloon. A tension pneumothorax is a particularly severe form of this condition where the air in the pleural cavity cannot escape, so the pneumothorax keeps getting bigger until it compresses the heart and blood vessels, leading to a life threatening situation.
Pulmonary vascular diseases
Pulmonary vascular diseases are conditions that affect the pulmonary circulation. Examples of these conditions are:
Pulmonary embolism, a blood clot that forms in a vein, breaks free, travels through the heart and lodges in the lungs (thromboembolism). Large pulmonary emboli are fatal, causing sudden death. A number of other substances can also embolise (travel through the blood stream) to the lungs but they are much more rare: fat embolism (particularly after bony injury), amniotic fluid embolism (with complications of labour and delivery), air embolism (iatrogenic - caused by invasive medical procedures).
Pulmonary arterial hypertension, elevated pressure in the pulmonary arteries. Most commonly it is idiopathic (i.e. of unknown cause) but it can be due to the effects of another disease, particularly COPD. This can lead to strain on the right side of the heart, a condition known as cor pulmonale.
Pulmonary oedema, leakage of fluid from capillaries of the lung into the alveoli (or air spaces). It is usually due to congestive heart failure.
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