Respiratory Disease


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 can 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 is affected by some form of chronic lung disease, most commonly chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma.the symptoms of respiratory disease differ depending on the disease.

Common symptoms are:

• Shortness of breath which usually occurs with exercise
• Cough with or without the production of sputum
• Coughing Blood.
• Chest pain that results from movements of breathing
• Noisy breathing – wheezing

Diagnostic tests

Respiratory diseases may be investigated by performing one or more of the following tests

• Chest x-ray
• Pulmonary function test
• Computed tomography scan
• Culture of microorganisms from sputum
• Bronchoscopy
• Biopsy of the lung or pleura
• Ventilation – perfusion scan
• Ultrasound to detect fluid

Treatment of respiratory disease

Treatment depends on the particular disease being treated, the severity of disease and the patient. Lifestyle factors such as regular exercise and healthy nutrition are important in preventing and treating respiratory disease. Vaccination can prevent some respiratory diseases.

The following treatments are often used:

• Medication, often given in an inhaled form
• Corticosteroids
• Bronchodilators
• Antibiotics
• Anticoagulants
• Cancer chemotherapy
• Immune suppressants
• Physiotherapy
• Oxygen
• Mechanical ventilation
• Liquid ventilation (or Liquid breathing)
• Surfactant Replacement Therapy
• Radiotherapy
• Surgery
• Removal of a cancer – lobectomy, pneumonectomy
• Pleurodesis
• Lung volume reduction surgery
• Lung transplantation

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 an empyema, the spread of the infection to the pleural cavity.

Respiratory tumours

Tumours of the respiratory system are either malignant or benign.