Respiratory Disorders which effect People

There are a number of respiratory disorders which affect people. The percentage of such disorders is particularly high in Pakistan. It is due to the more concentration of air pollutants not only in the urban but also in the rural atmosphere. Some of the important respiratory disorders are described next.

1. Bronchitis:

Bronchitis is the inflammation of the bronchi or bronchioles. It results in excessive secretions of mucus into the tubes, leading to the swelling of tubular walls and narrowing of tubes. It is caused by viruses, bacteria or exposure to chemical irritants (e.g. tobacco smoke).

Types of bronchitis:

There are two major types of bronchitis

  • Acute
  • Chronic

The acute bronchitis usually lasts about two weeks and patients recover with no permanent damage to the bronchi or bronchioles.

In chronic bronchitis, the bronchi develop chronic inflammation. It usually lasts for three months to two years.

The majority of people diagnosed with chronic bronchitis are 45 years of age or older.

Symptoms of bronchitis:

Symptoms of bronchitis include a cough, mild wheezing, fever, chills and shortness of breath (especially when doing hard job).

2. Emphysema:

Emphysema is the destruction of the walls of the alveoli.


It result in larger sacs but with less surface area for gaseous exchange. As lungs tissue break down the lungs do not come back to their original shape after exhalation. So air cannot be pushed out and is trapped in the lungs.


Symptoms of Emphysema:

The Symptoms of emphysema include shortness of breadth, fatigue, recurrent respiratory infections and weight loss. By the time the symptoms of emphysema appear the patient has usually lost 50% to 70% of his /her lungs tissue. The level of oxygen in blood may get so slow that it causes serious complication.

Fig:- The Alveoli; normal (left) and emphysema (right)

3. Pneumonia:

Pneumonia is an infection lungs. if this infection affect both lungs then, it is called double pneumonia.


The most common causes of pneumonia is a bacterium, streptococcus pneumonia. Some viral (influenza virus) and fungal infections may lead to pneumonia.

When the causation organisms enter the alveoli they, settle there and grow in number. They break the lung tissues and the area becomes filled with fluid and pus.



The symptoms of pneumonia include a cold that is followed by a high fever, shivering, and a cough with sputum production. patient may become short of breath. The patient’s skin colour may change and become dusky or purplish. It is due to poor oxygenation of blood.

Prior to the discovery of antibiotics one-third of pneumonia patients died from the infection.



Vaccines are available to prevent pneumonia caused by S. pneumoniae. Antibiotics are used in the treatment of this type of pneumonia.

4. Asthma:

Asthma is a form of allergy, in which there is inflammation of the bronchi, more mucous production and narrowing of the airways.

In asthma patients, the bronchi and bronchioles become sensitive to different allergens (allergy causing factors)e.g. dust, smoke, perfumes, pollens etc. When exposed to any of such allergens, the sensitive airways show immediate and excessive response of constriction. In this condition, the patient feels difficulty in breathing.



The symptoms of asthma vary form person to person. The major symptoms include shortness of breath (especially with exertion or at night), wheezing (whistling sound when breathing out),cough and chest tightness.



The chemicals with ability to dilate the bronchi and bronchioles are used in the treatment of asthma. Such medicines are given in the form of inhalers.

5. Lung Cancer :

Lung cancer is a disease of uncontrolled cell division in the tissues of the lung. The cells continue to divide without any control and form tumours. The cellular growth may also invade adjacent tissues beyond the lung.

Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer-related deaths and is responsible for more than 1.3 million deaths worldwide annually.

Lung cancer-


The most common symptoms are shortness of breath , coughing (including coughing up blood) and weight loss.

Causes of any cancer:

The main causes of any cancer include carcinogens (such as those in cigarette smoke), ionizing radiation and viral infection. Smoking is the main cause of lung cancer. This risk of lung cancer is significantly lower in non smokers. Cigarette smoke contains over 50 known carcinogens.

Passive smoking:

Passive smoking (the inhalation of smoke from another’s smoking) is also a cause of lung cancer. The smoke from the burning end of a cigarette is more dangerous than the smoke from the filter end.

If a person stops smoking, the chance to develop cancer decrease as damage to the lungs is repaired and contaminant particles are gradually removed.

Eliminating tobacco smoking is a primary goal in the prevention of lung cancer. The World Health Organization has called the governments to stop tobacco advertising to prevent young people from taking up smoking.

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