Lung diseases are some of the most common medical conditions worldwide. Tens of millions of people suffer from lung disease in the U.S. Smoking, infections, and genetics are responsible for most lung diseases. The lungs are part of a complex apparatus, expanding and relaxing thousands of times daily to bring in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide. Lung disease can result from problems in any part of this system.
There are three main classifications for lung diseases. Airway diseases affect the tubes (airways) that carry oxygen and other gases into and out of the lungs. These diseases usually cause a narrowing or blockage of the airways. They include asthma, emphysema, bronchiectasis, and chronic bronchitis. People with airway diseases often say they feel as if they are “trying to breathe out through a straw.” Lung tissue diseases affect the structure of the lung tissue. Scarring or inflammation of the tissue makes the lungs unable to expand fully. This makes it hard for the lungs to take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide. People with this type of lung disorder often say they feel as if they are “wearing a too-tight sweater or vest” that doesn’t allow them to breath deeply. Pulmonary fibrosis and sarcoidosis are examples of lung tissue disease. Lung circulation diseases affect the blood vessels in the lungs. They are caused by clotting, scarring, or inflammation of the blood vessels. They affect the ability of the lungs to take up oxygen and to release carbon dioxide. These diseases may also affect heart function.
Common Lung Diseases and Disorders
Lung disease can also be any disease or disorder that occurs in the lungs or that causes the lungs to not work properly.
Acute Bronchitis – Acute Bronchitis describes the inflammation of the bronchi usually caused by a viral infection. Acute bronchitis may be contagious if it’s caused by a viral infection.
Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) – ARDS is a severe lung syndrome caused by a variety of direct and indirect issues. It is a life-threatening lung condition that prevents enough oxygen from getting to the lungs and into the blood.
Asbestosis – Asbestosis is a disease that involves a scarring of lung tissue as a result of breathing in asbestos fibers. Asbestos is a natural mineral product that’s resistant to heat and corrosion.
Asthma – Asthma is a chronic (long-term) lung disease that causes the airways of the lungs to swell and narrow, leading to wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and coughing.
Bronchiectasis – Bronchiectasis is an abnormal widening of one or more airways. If the condition is present at birth, it is called congenital bronchiectasis. If it develops later in life, it is called acquired bronchiectasis.
Bronchiolitis – Bronchiolitis is swelling and mucus buildup in the smallest air passages in the lungs (bronchioles), usually due to a viral infection.
Bronchiolitis Obliterans Organizing Pneumonia (BOOP) – BOOP is a swelling of the small airways in the lung. The swelling causes blockages in the outermost parts of the lung.
Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia – Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) is a serious lung disease in infants. It is a chronic lung condition that affects newborn babies who were either put on a breathing machine after birth or were born very early (prematurely).
Byssinosis – Byssinosis (brown lung disease) is a lung disease caused by exposure to dusts from cotton processing, hemp and flax.