Top 8 common Respiratory Diseases/illnesses

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The Respiratory diseases or illnesses are comprised of all pathological conditions happening or affecting lungs, gaseous exchange and O2 diffusion or perfusion.

Nowadays due to pollution and unhygienic conditions it has increased all over the world which is mostly affecting infants, adults and <60 old age people and as by the age the disease is growing. And in some cases it often leads to death. Also many of the people around the globe can also get into these life threatening conditions genetically or by sexual contact but most commonly it is developed by smoking.

According to recent updates and researches, top 8 respiratory disorders worldwide are :

  • Asthma
  • COPS
  • Chronic Bronchitis
  • Emphysema
  • Lung Cancer
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Pneumonia
  • Pleural Effusion.


It is counted as the most common respiratory illness which starts from childhood and then with the age it progresses. It comes under the category of Obstructive Lung Diseases, which means that the airway is obstructed and a limited amount of air is unable to enter the lungs.

In this condition the airways are narrowed and inflamed. It can be triggered by air pollutants, smoke, mist, fumes, pollens, molds and animal dander.

Symptoms of Asthma

Symptoms associated with Asthma are followed.

• Cough        

• Wheezing          

• Tightness in chest        

• Shortness of Breath

Diagnosis of Asthma

There are some parameters from which asthma can be diagnosed, which are:

  • History: Family history, period of attacks, time duration and whether it is seasonal or not.
  • Examination: mild attacks, severe attacks or moderate attacks. 

Treatment  of Asthma

Generalized treatment is given for this condition which is Anti inflammatory inhalers. Inhalers play a big role in management of Asthma.


COPD is the abbreviation for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. 

This also comes under the umbrella of Obstructive Lung Disease (OLD). It usually shows up in old age and doesn’t even show any breathlessness symptoms till late 50s, 60s or 70s. It is majorly caused by smoking. 

This is a type of disease which keeps getting worse time by time. In this we could not exhale the air properly and alveolar abnormalities occur due to exposure to smoke, gasses and noxious particles. It can also be caused by genetic factors, infection, chronic bronchitis and airway hyperreactivity.

Symptoms COPD

Symptoms associated with further symptoms.

• Cough (with or without mucus)      

• Fatigue        

• Respiratory Infections 

• Shortness of Breath         

• Wheezing  

Diagnosis COPD

Diagnosis can be done by steps which are followed

  • Clinical features: Cough, Expectoration, Dyspnea
  • Physical examination: Inspection, Palpation, Percussion, Auscultation
  • Sample of sputum, Chest X-ray, spirometry.

Treatment COPD

For the treatment of COPD, doctors prescribe :

  • Quick relief drugs to open the airway.
  • Control drugs to reduce lung inflammation.
  • Anti inflammatory drugs to reduce swelling in airways.
  • Long term antibiotics.

And in severe cases :

  • Steroids by mouth or Intravenously.
  • Bronchodilators through nebulizers.
  • Oxygen therapy.
  • And very severely ETT.


This condition is a form of COPD, which involves a long term cough with mucus.

Especially in morning, people cough up with mucus because their mucus glands in airways increase output and patients have to cough out the extra mucus secretion. Due to this condition patients have issues in coughing properly and having mucus while coughing which somehow irritates.


Symptoms for Chronic Bronchitis are much likely with COPD as it further leads to COPD or any Obstructive lung illness.

• Cough      

• Fatigue        

• Discomforting chest        

• Shortness of Breath


It contains simple diagnosis like :

  • Sputum test 
  • Chest X-ray


Treatment required for Chronic Bronchitis is aerosol sprays, bronchodilator medicines which helps in opening air passageways.

Also steroids can be helpful in relaxation of chest.


The type of COPD in which the lung gets damaged causes Shortness of breath and alveoli damage. 

It weakens the walls of air sacs and by the time gets ruptures. It occurs in people who smoke or people who regularly breathe in places of noxious particles or the people who work in such places exposed to nano particles and gases. It shows up after long exposure to smoke particles or non-smokers who lack protein named as “alpha-1 antitrypsin” develop emphysema.


Most common symptom of Emphysema is Shortness of Breath, followed by these signs.

• Chest pain          

• Cough/Wheezing         

• Cyanosis           

• Lung infections 


Two main findings for emphysema are :

  • Chest X ray
  • Arterial Blood Gases (ABGs) Analysis.


There is no such cure for Emphysema but medications are available to reduce further lung or alveolar damage like antibiotics, corticosteroids and bronchodilators.


As it is clearly understood by the name that cancerous cells start developing in the lungs. It is one of the leading causes of deaths due to this cancer in the United States and the most common and serious illness across the world. 

The cancer cells divide uncontrollably inside our lungs which reduces a person’s ability to breathe.


It has common signs as rest of lung disorders like

• Chest pain          

• Chest infection           

• Pneumonia            

• Weight Loss           

• Loss of appetite            

• Shortness of Breath           

• Coughing (With and without blood)           

• Headaches 


It can also be difficult to diagnose a lung carcinoma because in start it seems like other lung disorders. It contains imaging studies like:

  • CT Scans 
  • Tissue sampling
  • Chest X ray


The treatment depends on the area covered by cells and stages. Majorly treated by chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery like lobectomy.


It is a genetic respiratory illness which is caused by a defective gene that secretes and builds up thick mucus that blocks air passages and tubes of lungs, pancreas and other organs.

It is a progressive disease which causes persistent lung infections and limits the ability to breathe. 

In the lungs the mucus clogs the airways and traps bacteria leading to infection, lung damage and with the time respiratory failure.

In pancreas the mucus prevents the secretion of digestive enzymes that allows the breakdown of nutrients. 


Cystic Fibrosis is a complex form of disease. In this condition symptoms may differ from person to person. Some common Gastrointestinal and Respiratory symptoms are :

• Abdominal Distention           

• Intestinal Obstruction          

• Cough            

• Asthma

• Recurrent Pneumonia         

• Dyspnea on exertion               

• Chest Pain.


Cystic Fibrosis diagnosis requires multiple tests which includes either positive genetic testing or sweat chloride test findings.

Imaging  studies may also be helpful like

  • Radiography (Chest, Sinus, Abdomen)
  • Ultrasonography 
  • Contrast Barium Enema.


Treatment also varies from person to person but some therapies which carry on are common like :

  • Airway clearance therapy
  • Inhaled Medicines
  • Pancreatic Enzyme Supplements.

For airways clearance therapy it requires either chest percussion technique or an electrical best with vibrates and due to its vibration and waves it helps to lose and the patient gets rid of thick mucus.

Inhaled medicines open airways and thin the mucus. The medicines are antibiotics to clear airways.

Mild exacerbations of Cystic Fibrosis can be treated at home with Inhaled bronchodilator treatment, chest physical therapy, postural drainage and use of oral antibiotics. 

And in the end stage of lung fibrosis it requires a surgical procedure or lung transplant.


It is a common lung disease due to infection in alveoli. 

It can be in some cases easily recovering or in some cases life threatening. It is mainly caused by viral, bacterial or fungal infections in the people who have smoking history or low immunity.


Pneumonia associated symptoms are:

• Cough (with or without mucus)

• Fever with chills and sweating

• Short of Breath

• Stabbing chest pain.


It requires multiple tests to diagnose Pneumonia. People who have other chronic diseases or weak immune systems are much more likely to get affected by pneumococcal Pneumonia.

  • Blood tests
  • Chest X ray
  • Pulse oximetry
  • Sputum test are used for the common diagnosis 


Anti viral, antibiotics and antifungal medications are given to reduce infection. Pain relievers are also given in this condition to reduce chest pain.


Collection of fluids in pleural space i.e. between lungs and chest wall is known as Pleural Effusion.

It is caused by multiple reasons which are Congestive Heart Failure, Pneumonia, Chylothorax and Malignancy.


Key symptom for pleural effusion is Shortness of Breath.

• Irritation of pleura

• Mild and Sharp Stabbing pain

• Dry cough

• Decreased breath sound and dullness are the symptoms of pleural Effusion.


Pleural Effusion can easily diagnosed mainly by 

  • Chest X ray
  • Ultrasound
  • CT Scan


The first choice of every care provider is to treat the underlying cause and and after that final treatment requires THORACENTESIS. Which is a technique used for drainage of pleural fluid. It is done in both therapeutic and diagnostic ways.