Respiratory Disease is a group of disorders which affect the respiratory tract and lungs. There are a wide range of conditions which fall under the conditions necessary to label them "respiratory disease", from the common cold to lung cancer.
Knowing a few parts of the lungs is essential to understanding respiratory disease. The trachea (commonly called the wind pipe) connects to the bronchi, which are small pathways that connect to the alveoli. The alveoli are air sacs in the lungs where oxygen is drawn into the blood, and carbon dioxide is released.
One subset of these diseases is called "Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease". COPD comprises diseases like emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Emphysema is when the air sacs in the lungs become damaged (frequently from cigarette smoking), making it difficult for the lungs to draw oxygen from the atmosphere into the blood stream. Currently, there is no treatment for emphysema, but the rate of damage can be slowed. The simplest treatment is to give up smoking (if the sufferer is a smoker). There are also medications that can help, as well as supplemental oxygen.
Chronic bronchitis is also a subtype of COPD. When the bronchi become swollen and irritated, bronchitis occurs. Coughing up extra mucus and wheezing in the chest are some of the most common symptoms of bronchitis. The extra mucus in the lungs makes an ideal breeding ground for bacteria, which can make chronic bronchitis sufferers more likely to develop pneumonia. Much like emphysema, the best treatment for chronic bronchitis is usually to quit smoking.
Asthma has a lot in common with bronchitis: it involves the irritation of air pathways which then fill with mucus, making it difficult to breathe. An additional symptom of asthma is the spasm of muscles around airways, which further restricts the ability to breathe.
Asthma can be affected by a number of factors. Asthma Inducers are environmental factors that can cause irritation and the production of mucus. Asthma inducers include things like pollen and dust, as well as infections like colds and flus. Asthma Triggers are environmental conditions that can lead to muscle spasms, like cold air, smoke, or even vigorous exercise.
Because of the prevalence of asthma, there are many different treatment options. The two primary types of medication are called preventers and rescue medicines. By taking a preventer daily, the incidence of asthma incidents will be reduced. If an asthma attack occurs despite use of the preventer, a rescue medication can ease the severity of the attack.