Respiratory Disorders

These disorders may be categorized as inflammatory or noninflammatory disorders.

Inflammatory Respiratory Disorders:


  1. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)- group of disorders where there is a long-term obstruction that reduces airflow to and from the lungs.
  2. Asthma- is characterized by wheezing and dyspnea (labored breathing) that result from constriction of the bronchioles by the contraction of smooth muscles in their walls. It is often caused by an allergic reaction to airborne substances but also may result from hypersensitivity to bacteria or viruses infecting the bronchiole tree.
  3. Bronchitis- inflammation of the bronchi and it is characterized by excessive mucus production that partially obstructs airflow.
  4. Emphysema- results form long term exposure to airborne irritants, especially tobacco smoke. It is characterized by a rupture of the alveoli, forming larger spaces in the lungs and excess mucus production, which plugs terminal bronchioles, trapping air in the alveoli. This reduces the respiratory surface area and impairs gas exchange.
  5. Common cold- caused by a number of viruses and it often involves rhinitis, laryngitis, and sinusitis. Excessive mucus production, sneezing, and congestion are common symptoms.
  6. Influenza or flu- caused by one of several viruses. Symptoms are fever, chills, headache, and muscular aches followed by cold like symptoms.
  7. Laryngitis-inflammation of the mucous membrane lining the larynx. It usually causes a thickening of the vocal cords, which lowers the voice. Viral or bacterial infections or allergens may cause laryngitis.
  8. Pleurisy- inflammation of the pleural membranes. Often results in a decrease in secretion of serous fluid, which causes sharp pains with each breath.
  9. Pneumonia- an acute inflammation of the alveoli that may be caused by viral or bacterial infections. The alveoli become filled with fluid, pathogens and white blood cells, which reduce space for air exchange.
  10. Rhinitis- an inflammation of the membranes lining the nasal cavity, characterized by an increased mucus secretion.
  11. Sinusitis- inflammation of the sinuses and it is characterized by an increased mucus secretion and a buildup of pressure within the sinuses.
  12. Tuberculosis- an inflammation caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which is transmitted by inhalation. When it infects the lungs, the destroyed lung tissue is replaced by fibrous connective tissue that retards gas exchange and reduces lung elasticity.


Non inflammatory Respiratory Disorders:


  1. Lung cancer- usually develops from long-term exposure to irritants and the most common is tobacco smoke.
  2. Pulmonary edema- accumulation of fluid in the lungs. It results form excessive fluid passing from lung capillaries into the alveoli, which may be due to congestive heart failure.
  3. Pulmonary Embolism- refers to a blood clot or gas bubble that block a pulmonary artery and prevents blood from reaching a portion of the lung. Gas exchange cannot occur in the affected parts of the lung and could result in cardiac arrest.
  4. Respiratory distress syndrome (RDS)- also known as hyaline membrane disease. A disease of the newborn infants, especially premature infants. Results from an insufficient production of surfactant in the alveoli, leading to alveolar collapse.