Respiratory means to say anything that relates to or affects your respiration (the inhale and exhale of air) and your respiration organs. The process of respiration involves inhaling or the intake of oxygen that is passed into your lungs. This is known as inhalation. It is then processed through your body and then exhaled or expelled as carbon dioxide, which is known as exhalation. This collective process is known as ventilation. A respiratory disease is the term used to describe a disorder that affects the entire respiratory system including your lungs, the airways and not to mention respiratory muscles too. When facing such as diseases you may be required to receive oxygen therapy and more.
These respiratory diseases can differ between the acute and chronic variety, such as the common cold of the former and more serious and life-threatening illnesses such as lung cancer, COPD, and more.
If we were to classify Respiratory Diseases, you should be aware of the various party or components of your respiratory system. These include the likes of the following; the Airways, the Air Sacs (Alveoli), the Interstitium (a type or collective tissue that forms around the pulmonary organs), Blood Vessels, the Pleura (the lining that covers the surface of each lung), and the Chest Wall. The symptoms of each may differ based on the type of disease the patient is afflicted with. However, we can shed some light into the types of Respiratory Diseases that one may be afflicted with and to which areas or zones in the respiratory system it will afflict.
Respiratory Diseases that Affect the Airways
The airways is made up of the windpipe (known as the trachea) that then branch out into the bronchi and thereafter onto smaller tubes (bronchioles) within the lungs. Common respiratory diseases that affect the airways include the following;
- Asthma: It’s characterised by inflammations in the airways, wheezing, spasms and shortness of breath. There are a number of asthma triggers including allergies, infections and pollution.
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): It’s characterised by difficult breathing, often exhaling.
- Chronic Bronchitis: It’s characterised by a chronic productive cough. However, acute bronchitis too affects the airways usually brought on by a virus.
- Cystic Fibrosis: It’s characterised by its lack of ability to clear the airways of mucus whereby it can lead to frequent and repeated cases of lung infections.
- Emphysema: It’s characterised by being unable to blow out air, with air getting stuck in the airways often caused by lung damage. It’s a form of COPD.
Respiratory Diseases that Affect the Air Sac
The air passes from the bronchioles and ends up in the air sacs, which is made up of lung tissue. Essentially, the air sacs will fill up with air when you inhale and empty as you exhale. The common respiratory diseases that affect the air sacs include;
- Pneumonia: This is caused by an infection forming inside the air sacs.
- Tuberculosis: Also known as TB; it’s a progressive form of pneumonia.
- Emphysema: It’s often caused by smoking involves great damage to the connections of the Alveoli (air sacs) which affects air flow/air ways too.
- Pulmonary Edema: It’s characterised by fluid leaking from pulmonary blood vessels into air sacs and it’s surrounds. This can be caused by fluid leakage into the lungs caused by some form of injury.
- Lung Cancer: This may become present in any area of the lungs (in or near the alveoli).
- Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS): A sudden illness may cause injury to the lungs. Often ventilation is offered as a form of life support.
- Pneumoconiosis: This is characterised by the inhalation of a substance that could cause injury to the lungs such as asbestos.
Respiratory Diseases that Affect the Interstitium
The interstitium is the fine lining between each air sac, where you will find blood vessels and gas exchange to occur. The following affect the interstitium;
- Interstitial Lung Damage (ILD): This is a group of lung conditions that affect the interstitium including autoimmune diseases and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
- Pulmonary Edema
Respiratory Diseases that Affect the Pulmonary Blood Vessels
It should be noted that the right side of heart receive low-oxygen blood from the veins, which is then pumped into the lungs through the pulmonary blood vessels and is too affected by disease such as the following;
- Pulmonary Embolism: Known as PE, it is characterised by a blood clot often found in a deep leg vein breaking off and travelling to the heart and pumped into the lungs causing shortness of breath as well as low oxygen levels due to the clog.
- Pulmonary Hypertension: There are many reasons why you may find high blood pressure affecting the pulmonary arteries that causes shortness of breath and chest pain.
Respiratory Diseases that Affect the Pleura
Pleura is the lining that is found within the chest walls and what surrounds the lungs too which allows the lung to slide without difficult with each inhale and exhale of breath. The following affect the Pleura;
- Pleural Effusion: This is characterised by more fluid than normal found in the space meant for the pleura which can lead to pneumonia and heart failure.
- Pneumothorax: This occurs when air is passed into the space where you may find the pleura which causes the lung(s) to collapse and is relieved by inserted a tube into the chest wall to remove the air.
- Mesothelioma: This is a rare form of cancer that occurs in the pleura caused by exposure to asbestos.
Respiratory Diseases that Affect the Chest Wall
The chest wall is made up muscles connecting to the rib cage, helping the chest expand as the lungs inhale and exhale air. The following affect the chest wall;
- Obesity Hypoventilation Syndrome: Breathing difficulty caused by the extra weight put on the chest wall and abdomen.
- Neuromuscular Disorders: Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Mysathenia Gravis are some of examples of such disorders, which is characterised by breathing difficulties by poorly functioning nerves of the chest muscles.
Speak to the Oxygen Specialists at Oxygen Solutions to find out which of our solutions may help with your breathing difficulties to aid your treatment for the likes of the respiratory diseases.