Lung diseases can be classified as follows:
Obstructive lung diseases commonly diagnosed are asthma, bronchitis and emphysema. In severe cases these can cause chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Asthma - Asthma is a chronic disease that causes the airways to narrow when irritated. The airways narrow because the muscles surrounding them tighten when in contact with an 'asthma triger'- something that irritates the airways. Narrowed airways prevent proper inhalation and lungs cannot full to capacity making you short of breath. Chronic narrowing of the airways, known as an asthma attack when symptoms become worse, can be fatal. Patients with asthma can usually control the symptoms of asthma with medication such as inhalers.
Bronchitis - Bronchitis is an inflammation of windpipe and airways (bronchi) inside the lungs. Bronchitis normally has a trigger, such as a common cold. There are no treatments for bronchitis as viral infections are not treatable with antibiotics, however doctors can prescribe treatments to limit the symptoms.
Emphysema - Emphysema is a chronic lung disease that causes the tissue supporting the lungs and the air sacs within the lungs to collapse, preventing the lungs from taking and releasing air efficiently. Emphysema is a disease that worsens over time and there is no cure. Treatment for emphysema generally involves relieving the symptoms and as smoking is the main cause of emphysema, patients are urged to quit smoking in order to delay the progression of the condition. A new surgery, Lung Volume Reduction Surgery, is proving effective at reducing the symptoms however it is not a cure for emphysema.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease - This form of lung disease is progressive meaning it gets worse over time. COPD is defined as a permanent inflammation of the lungs and airways which makes breathing difficult. Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are visible in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Interstitial lung disease is caused by a scarring of the lung tissue. The disease develops gradually and as scar tissue multiplies, the lungs become restricted and breathing is difficult. There is no known cause for interstitial lung disease.
Infections in the upper respiratory tract are non-serious infections such as a common cold or influenza. Infections in the lower respiratory tract tend to be more serious, such as acute bronchitis and pneumonia.
Pneumonia - Pneumonia in inflammation in one or both lungs caused by an infection, bacteria or virus. Pneumonia if diagnosed early can be treated with antibiotics, however pneumonia can prove fatal and is one of the leading causes of death amongst the elderly. Pneumonia symptoms begin as a common cold and develop to a high fever, chills and a bad cough. People aged 65+, people with heart conditions and kidney problems as well as people who have suffered a stroke are at risk of pneumonia. Pneumonia in children can often develop with no symptoms until a high fever and drowsiness set in.
The information on this site is not a substitute for diagnosis or treatment from a licensed medical practitioner. If you are experiencing a serious medical condition call your local emergency services or your doctor.