The study of respiratory disease is known as PULMONOLOGY. A doctor who specializes in respiratory disease is known as a pulmonologist, a chest medicine specialist, a respiratory medicine specialist, a respirologist or a thoracic medicine specialist.
Respiratory diseases can be classified in many different ways, including by the organ or tissue involved, by the type and pattern of associated signs and symptoms, or by the cause of the disease.
Respiratory DIsease is a medical term that encompasses pathological conditions affecting the organs and tissues that make gas exchange possible in higher organisms, and includes conditions of the upper respiratory tract, trachea, bronchi, bronchioles, alveoli, pleura and pleural cavity, and the nerves and muscles of breathing. Respiratory diseases range from mild and self-limiting, such as the common cold, to life-threatening entities like bacterial pneumonia, pulmonary embolism, acute asthma and lung cancer.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is an umbrella term used to describe progressive lung diseases including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, refractory (non-reversible) asthma, and some forms of bronchiectasis. This disease is characterized by increasing breathlessness.
Many people mistake their increased breathlessness and coughing as a normal part of aging. In the early stages of the disease, you may not notice the symptoms. COPD can develop for years without noticeable shortness of breath. You begin to see the symptoms in the more developed stages of the disease. That’s why it is important that you talk to your doctor as soon as you notice any of these symptoms.
Pulmonary Fibrosis is a respiratory disease in which scars are formed in the lungs tissues, leading to serious breathing problems. Scar formation, the accumulation of excess fibrous connective tissue leads to thickening of the walls, and causes reduced oxygen supply in the blood. As a consequence patients suffer from constant shortness of breath.
Pulmonary Hypertension is an increase of blood pressure in the pulmonary artery, pulmonary vein, or pulmonary capillaries, together known as the lung vasculature. This can lead to shortness of breath, dizziness, fainting, leg swelling and other symptoms. Pulmonary hypertension can be a severe disease with a markedly decreased exercise tolerance
Asthma - A common lung disorder in which inflammation causes the bronchi to swell and narrow the airways, creating breathing difficulties that may range from mild to life-threatening. Symptoms include shortness of breath, cough, wheezing, and chest tightness. The diagnosis of asthma is based on evidence of wheezing and is confirmed with breathing tests. Many allergens and irritants can precipitate attacks of asthma. Avoidance of precipitating factors can be helpful. Treatment may include lifestyle changes, activity reduction, allergy shots, and medications to prevent or reverse the bronchospasm.
Bronchiectasis - Normal branching of the airways of the lung demonstrates a gentle taper that occurs at each branch point, like the branches of a tree. This tapering results in decreased resistance in the larger branches, enabling mucus or other objects to be funneled to the larger airways and eventually, with a cough, ejected out through the mouth. Loss of this normal anatomic tapering of the airways by damage due to inflammation causes the walls of the airways to be irregularly shaped. Secretions tend to pool in the distorted airways rather than be expelled, and these stagnant secretions are a breeding ground for bacterial growth. These bacteria, in turn, cause further irritation and inflammation, airway damage, and hence more secretions, initiating a "vicious cycle" of damage. This increases the risk of infections to spread directly into the airspaces of the lungs resulting in pneumonia.
Lung Cancer - is the number one cause of cancer deaths in both men and women in the U.S. and worldwide. Cigarette smoking is the principal risk factor for development of lung cancer. Passive exposure to tobacco smoke (passive smoking) also can cause lung cancer. The two types of lung cancer, which grow and spread differently, are small cell lung cancers (SCLC) and non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC). The stage of lung cancer refers to the extent to which the cancer has spread in the body.
Treatment of lung cancer can involve a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy, and radiation therapy as well as newer experimental methods.
Quitting smoking can be one of the most difficult, yet rewarding things a person can do. Most smokers say they would like to quit, and may have tried at least once. Some are successful the first time, but many other people try a number of times before they finally give up for good.
You will feel the benefits of quitting right away as your body repairs itself. Depending on the number of cigarettes you smoke, typical benefits of stopping are:
- After twelve hours almost all of the nicotine is out of your system.
- After twenty-four hours the level of carbon monoxide in your blood has dropped dramatically. You now have more oxygen in your bloodstream.
- After five days most nicotine by-products have gone.
- Within days your sense of taste and smell improves.
- Within a month your blood pressure returns to its normal level and your immune system begins to show signs of recovery.
- Within two months your lungs will no longer be producing extra phlegm caused by smoking.
- After twelve months your increased risk of dying from heart disease is half that of a continuing smoker.
- Stopping smoking reduces the incidence and progression of lung disease including chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
- After ten years of stopping your risk of lung cancer is less than half that of a continuing smoker and continues to decline (provided the disease is not already present).
- After fifteen years your risk of heart attack and stroke is almost the same as that of a person who has never smoked.
Here are some helpful links to hopefully get you on the path to becoming a healthier person as a non-smoker.