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Respiratory Diseases
By
Lakshmi Jaisimha


Respiratory diseases are those that affect the lungs, the air sacs, and other organs of the respiratory system in our body. While the most common causes for these diseases are pollution and smoking tobacco, you might get affected due to some allergies, nutritional deficiency and genetic reasons as well.
 

But how do you know you have a respiratory disease? Well, these diseases bring a lot of symptoms along. We will discuss these symptoms for each specific condition when we discuss the different types of respiratory diseases. 
 

However, here’s a general list of symptoms for you to get an idea.
 

Common Symptoms of Respiratory Diseases
 

  • Difficulty in breathing or Shortness in Breathing
  • Severe cough
  • Bleeding when you cough
  • A feeling of heaviness while breathing 
  • Chest pain
  • Sore throat
  • Blood in mucus


Now, that we know what are the general signs and symptoms, let’s proceed with the different respiratory disease types.


 

Types of Respiratory Diseases
 

Depending on the different causes, respiratory diseases can be categorised into several types. Today, in this article, we’ll discuss the principal 7 types.
 

1. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases (COPD)

If you are a smoker or inhale tobacco in any form, you are most likely to suffer from this disease. People who spend a lot of their time in industrial areas where there is irritating gas all around may also get this disease.
 

Sometimes Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease can also be caused due to genetic reasons.
 

Symptoms

  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Cough

 

Complications

  • AIDS
  • Tuberculosis
  • Lung cancer
     

Please note that this is a long term disease which doesn't have a proper cure. However, you can manage it and keep it from getting worse with some treatment methods.
 

Treatment

  • Smoking cessation
  • Bronchodilator therapy 
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation
     

Pulmonary Rehabilitation is a program that focuses on nutritional counselling, plus teaching you breathing and exercise strategies.

 

2. Asthma

The condition happens when your airways become narrow due to inflammation. This situation makes breathing difficult and may sometimes lead to producing extra mucus.
 

Asthma is of various types. These include allergic, non-allergic, occupational, cough-variant, nocturnal, aspirin-induced, and exercise-induced bronchoconstriction asthma.
 

Symptoms

  • Dry cough
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Whistling sound while exhaling
  • Fatigue

 

Causes

There are mainly two causes.
 

  • Your genes: If someone in your family has asthma, you can have it too.
  • Less exposure to bacteria during the infant stage: Some babies are grown in such hygienic conditions that there is no bacteria for their bodies to fight while they are growing up. This situation takes away their opportunity to strengthen their immunity.


Treatment

  • Take long term medications to manage asthma.
  • Do breathing exercises.
  • Get Bronchodilators through a nebuliser.

     

3. Emphysema 

Emphysema is a severe form of COPD. The condition defines the situation when the air sacs that are in your lungs get damaged, narrowed, over-inflated, or stretched. It evolves over the years and eventually leads to respiratory failure. Unfortunately, it has no cure.
 

With a lack of enough healthy air sacs, there aren’t enough to manage the inhalation and exhalation of oxygen and carbon dioxide, respectively.

 

Symptoms

  • Chronic cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
     

Causes

It is no surprise that the most common cause is smoking. Tobacco damages the air sacs to such a level that they are no longer capable of repairing themselves.
 

The other major cause is your genes. If someone in your family has or had Emphysema, it is possible you can inherit it too.

 

Treatment

As mentioned above, there’s no proper cure for Emphysema. However. It can be kept in control with the help of medications. If gone severe you might have to go for surgeries. 
 

Here are the medications you can take.
 

  • Bronchodilators (this treatment helps to relieve the blockage by opening up the airways in your lungs).

    These are of two types:
    • Beta-agonists
    • Anticholinergics
       
  • Corticosteroids 
  • Lung volume reduction surgery: The surgery helps get rid of the damaged lung tissue.
  • Lung transplantation surgery
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation: This program helps people with lifestyle management. It helps to:
    • Get rid of the habit of smoking.
    • Follow a healthy diet.
    • Exercise consistently.
    • Practice breathing exercises like diaphragmatic breathing, pursed-lip breathing, and deep breathing.
    • Make a habit of drinking more water.
    • Make a habit of avoiding cold air - with scarfs and masks.

 

Risk factors

Apart from smoking, certain other factors increase your risk of having Emphysema.

  • Air pollution
  • Cotton dust, mineral dust, or similar dust that you may be exposed to regularly.
  • Chemicals that should not be inhaled like isocyanates, cadmium, coal etc.
     

You might remember the famous Bhopal Gas tragedy in India that happened in 1984. The tragedy involved the leakage of methyl isocyanate. 
 

Several people inhaled the chemical. Over 5 lac people got affected, and about 4000 people died. For most of them, the reason for death was choking, and a failed respiratory system.
 

4. Lung Cancer

Cellular damage caused by inhaling a harmful chemical for a long term can eventually lead to the cancer of the lungs. While the tumour begins in the lungs, it can go on to the lymph nodes, bones, brain and then the liver as well.
 

Symptoms

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Chest pain when you laugh, cough or breathe deep
  • Tiredness
  • Weight loss
     

Causes

  • Uranium
  • Arsenic
  • Cadmium
  • Nickel
  • Chromium
     

Risk factors

You might have guessed it already. Smoking is a huge risk factor and encourages the development of lung cancer. Also, if someone in your family has lung cancer, or you have had radiation therapy on your chest, then you are more likely to get the disease.

 

Treatment

Once diagnosed, you will be required to undergo surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy and radiation therapy. These can be done alone or in combination according to the severity of your cancer.
 

You can also add in natural treatment options like yoga, acupuncture, hypnosis, massage, and meditation. 
 

5. Pneumonia

You have air sacs in your lungs known by the name of alveoli. When an infection causes inflammation in these air sacs, the condition is called pneumonia. 
 

Symptoms

  • Nausea
  • Cough with mucus
  • Fever
  • Sweating
  • Chest pain (especially during coughing, laughing or deep breathing).
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Headache
     

Causes

  • Bacteria like Streptococcus Pneumonia and Legionella Pneumophila.
  • Viruses like the Rhinovirus or Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)
  • Fungi like Pneumocystis Jirovecii and Cryptococcus Species

 

Treatment

Medications that include antibiotics, aspirin, and ibuprofen, can prove helpful in the treatment of pneumonia. If you are hospitalised, oxygen therapy and respiratory therapy, both may prove very useful. 

 

6. Pleural Effusion

A condition wherein excess fluid builds up in the lungs and chest region is called Pleural Effusion.
 

It happens when the lungs are damaged somehow, and pleura creates too much fluid. Pleura is the lining around the lungs that serves the responsibility of cushioning it. The damage can be inflammation, irritation or any infection that usually is a result of excessive cell damage in the body.


Symptoms

  • Fever
  • Hiccups
  • Dry cough
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath



Causes

  • Lung cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Leukaemia
  • Melanoma
  • Poor liver function
  • Pneumonia
  • Kidney disease
  • Autoimmune diseases



Treatment
 

The treatment involves draining of the fluid from between the lungs and the chest cavity. For this, your doctor may suggest a small surgery or the procedure of Pleurodesis. Pleurodesis is when the doctor creates a mild inflammation in your chest region to remove the excess fluid.

 

7. Chronic Bronchitis

The tubes in which the air travels to and from your lungs are known as Bronchial tubes. An inflammation that happens at the lining of these bronchial tubes is known as Bronchitis. It is a form of COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases).


Symptoms

  • Sinus congestion
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Bad breath
  • Chills
  • Discomfort in the chest


Causes

One of the significant causes of bronchitis is the damage that happens to the airways. The damage can be because of:

  • Smoking
  • Inhalation of harmful chemical fumes
  • Lung infections
  • Passive smoking
  • Air pollution

     

Risk factors

 

  • If you have any heart condition, it can affect your bronchial tubes as well.
  • Infections in other parts of the body can pass it on in the lungs.
  • Respiratory tract infections may also trigger bronchitis.


Treatment

According to how severe your bronchitis is, your doctor will suggest one of the following treatments.
 

  • Use of bronchodilator (it opens up the airways to help you breathe easily)
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation
  • Theophylline (oral medicine that relaxes the muscles around your airways)
  • Steroids
  • Lifestyle changes (quitting smoking, more physical activity, breathing warm and moist air to melt the mucus causing blockage, pursed-lip breathing etc.)


What Measures Can You Take to Prevent Respiratory Diseases?

  • Maintain proper body hygiene.
  • Wash your hands properly and frequently.
  • Avoid close contact with infected people.
  • Avoid going into industrial areas with irritable gases or chemicals in the environment.
  • Quit smoking and usage of Tobacco.
  • Use disposable masks such as N95 and Triple-layer masks to filter out the bad air.
  • Practice social distancing.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Consume well-balanced nourishing meals.
  • Go for regular check-ups, so that if you have the disease, you get to know about it in early stages when it is easier to treat.


The Bottom Line

Various kinds of respiratory diseases may trouble you in life. Most of these are a result of the excessive cell damage caused due to smoking or chemicals. You ought to ensure to stay away from these to keep yourself healthy. Regular exercise and a nutrient-rich diet will help reduce the risk. 
 

Regular check-ups are crucial even if you are generally always healthy. That’s because some of these diseases can be due to genetic reasons as well. It’s always better to get tested every year so that if someday you are diagnosed with a small infection or a disease, you get full opportunity to treat it before it's too late.
 

Taking care of your check-ups, your diet, and exercise while staying stress-free at an older age is not an easy task to take. That’s why Emoha is here to help. 


The Emoha Empower Plan brings you regular care calls, medication reminders and emergency facilities along with fun services like the MOH TV where you can engage with other people who might be going through the same problems like yours. 


Want to know more about the plan? Check out our website or call us at the toll-free number 1800-123-44-5555.
 

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