Lung diseases fall into many categories and are often caused by smoking, genetics or infections. They encompass a wide range of respiratory conditions. The lungs are part of a complex apparatus, expanding and relaxing thousands of times each day to bring in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide. Lung disease can result from problems in any part of this system.
Most common types of lung diseases
- Asthma: Characterized by wheezing, coughing and tightness of the chest, asthma is a chronic respiratory disease that makes it difficult to breathe. The exact cause of asthma remains unclear, but allergies, smoking, infections and stress can all exacerbate it. A variety of medications can be used to treat both immediate and lingering symptoms.
- Cystic fibrosis: This lung disease is caused by a genetic mutation and leads to difficulty breathing and chronic lung infections. In some cases, it can affect digestion. Cystic fibrosis is a lifelong condition known for triggering an excessive amount of mucus. Tremendous medical advancements with regard to cystic fibrosis are helping people with the condition live longer than ever before.
- Emphysema: Emphysema is a kind of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) that makes breathing difficult. According to the National Institutes of Health, emphysema damages the air sacs in the lungs so that the body receives an inadequate amount of oxygen. Inhalers, oxygen, medications and surgery can all be used to treat emphysema, according to the NIH. The most common cause of the disease is cigarette smoking. The American Lung Association reports that over three million people in the United States have emphysema.
- COPD: COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) refers to a collection of lung diseases that include asthma, emphysema and chronic bronchitis. According to the COPD Foundation, approximately 24 million people in the United States suffer from COPD. Symptoms include breathlessness, frequent coughing, wheezing and chest tightness.
The NIH reports that, on average, we breathe about 25,000 times each day. For people with lung disease, this can be a difficult task. In extreme cases, lung disease can cause respiratory failure.