Information Source on Lung Disease
Lung disease is any disease or disorder where lung function does not work properly. There are three main types of lung diseases:
Obstructive lung disease -- a decrease in the exhaled air flow caused by a narrowing or blockage of the lung airways, which can occur with asthma, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis, often due to smoking.
Restrictive lung disease -- a decrease in the total volume of air that the lungs are able to hold. Often, this lung capacity issue is due to a decrease in the elasticity of the lungs themselves or caused by a problem related to the expansion of the chest wall during inhalation. A defect in the ability of the lung's air sac tissue to move oxygen into a person's blood.
Most lung diseases actually involve a combination of these categories, such as emphysema, which involves both airflow obstruction and oxygenation problems.
Major Lung Diseases Include:
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Emphysema may become lung cancer
Interstitial Lung Disease
Pulmonary lung disease
Other Lung Diseases Include:
Aspergillosis - acute invasive
Lung disease can lead to cancer
Metastatic lung cancer
Pneumonia in immunodeficient patient
Pulmonary alveolar proteinosis
Pulmonary arteriovenous malformation
Pulmonary histiocytosis X (eosinophilic granuloma)
Pulmonary veno-occlusive disease
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is a slowly progressive serious disease of the airways that is characterized by a gradual loss of lung function. It's has strong similarities to the lung damage done by chronic emphysema. The disease is also known by its acronym which is COPD, and includes chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive bronchitis, or emphysema, or combinations of these life-threatening medical conditions. It represents the 4th leading cause of death in the U.S.
The symptoms of "chronic obstructive pulmonary disease" can range from chronic cough and sputum production to severe disabling shortness of breath.
In some people, the start of a chronic cough and its related sputum production are the first signs they are at risk for developing the airflow obstruction and shortness of breath characteristic of "Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease" In other people, shortness of breath may be the first evidence they have developed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
In the United States the most important risk factor for COPD by far is cigarette smoking. Pipe, cigar, other types of tobacco smoking, and passive exposure to cigarette smoke are also risk factors. Other documented causes of COPD include occupational dusts and chemicals. Outdoor air pollution adds to the total burden of inhaled particles in the lungs, but its role in causing Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is not certain.
The most important measure for preventing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – and for stopping disease progression – is avoidance of smoking. Also visit the emphysema organization for more information on how to stop smoking and potentially save your life, including slowing-down lung disease progression.
The diagnosis of "chronic obstructive pulmonary disease" is confirmed by the presence of air-way obstruction on testing with spirometry. Unfortunately, there is no known cure for COPD at this time. Chronic-obstructive-pulmonary-disease treatment is usually supportive and designed to relieve chronic obstructive pulmonary disease symptoms and also improve quality of life.
With continued exposure to cigarettes or noxious particles, the disease progresses and individuals with COPD increasingly lose their ability to breathe. Acute infections or certain weather conditions may temporarily worsen symptoms (exacerbations), occasionally where hospitalization may be required.
COPD develops slowly, and it may be many years before you notice symptoms like feeling short of breath. Most of the time, COPD is diagnosed in middle-aged or older people.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a major cause of death and illness, and it's the 4th leading cause of death in the USA and throughout the world.
There is no cure for COPD. The damage to your airways and lung disease damage cannot be reversed, however there are things you can do to feel better and slow the damage caused by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and progression of lung disease.
COPD is not contagious and you cannot catch it from someone who already you has the lung disease.
Who Is At Risk for COPD?
Most people with chronic-obstructive-pulmonary-disease (COPD) are smokers or former smokers. People with a family history of COPD are more likely to get the disease if they smoke. The chance of developing COPD is also greater in people who have spent many years in contact with lung irritants, such as: Air pollution - Chemical fumes, vapors, and dusts usually linked to certain jobs
A person who has had frequent and severe lung infections, especially during childhood, may have a greater chance of developing lung damage that can lead to chronic-obstructive-pulmonary disease. Fortunately, this is much less common today with anti-biotic treatments.
Most people with COPD are at least 40-years old or middle age when symptoms start. It is unusual, but possible for people younger than 40-years old to have COPD.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of COPD?
The signs and symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease include the following listed below:
- Sputum (mucus) production
- Shortness of breath, especially with exercise
- Wheezing - which is a whistling or squeaky sound when you breathe
- Chest tightness
A cough that doesn't go away and coughing up lots of mucus are common signs of COPD. These often occur years before the flow of air in and out of the lungs is reduced. However, not everyone with a cough and sputum production goes on to develop COPD, and not everyone with COPD has a cough.
The severity of the symptoms depends on how much of the lung has been destroyed. If you continue to smoke, the lung destruction is faster than if you stop smoking.
How the Lungs Work
The lungs provide a very large surface area (the size of a football field) for the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide between the body and the environment.
A slice of normal lung looks like a pink sponge filled with tiny bubbles or holes. These bubbles, surrounded by a fine network of tiny blood vessels, give the lungs a large surface to exchange oxygen into the blood where it is carried throughout the body by veins and arteries and removes carbon dioxide (out of the blood). This process is called gas exchange, which healthy lungs do well.
Here is how normal breathing works:
You breathe in air through your nose and mouth. The air travels down through your windpipe (trachea) then through large and small tubes in your lungs called bronchial (BRON-kee-ul) tubes. The larger tubes are bronchi (BRONK-eye), and the smaller tubes are bronchioles (BRON-kee-oles). Sometimes the word "airways" is used to refer to