Asthma is a chronic disease involving the airways in the lungs. These airways, or bronchial tubes, allow air to come in and out of the lungs. If you have asthma your airways are always inflamed. They become even more swollen and the muscles around the airways can tighten when something triggers your symptoms. This makes it difficult for air to move in and our of the lungs, causing symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and/or chest tightness.
Asthma symptoms, also called asthma flare-ups or asthma attacks, are often caused by allergies and exposure to allergens such as pet danger, dust mites, pollen or mold. Non-allergic triggers include smoke, pollution or cold air or changes in weather.
Asthma, American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology, http://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/asthma
Atelectasis is a complete or partial collapse of a lung or lobe of a lung – develops when the tiny air sacs within the lung become deflated. It is one of the most common breathing complications after surgery. It is also a possible complication of other respiratory problems including cystic fibrosis, inhaled foreign objects, severe asthma, etc. The amount of lung tissue involved in atelectasis is variable, depending on the cause. Signs and symptoms also vary.
Bronchiectasis is a disease in which there is permanent enlargement of parts of the airways of the lung. Symptoms typically include a chronic cough with sputum production. Other symptoms include shortness of breath, coughing up blood, and chest pain. Wheezing and nail clubbing may also occur. Those with the disease often get frequent lung infections. The mechanism of disease is breakdown of the airways due to an excessive inflammatory response. Involved bronchi become enlarged and thus less able to clear secretions. These secretions increase the number of bacteria in the lungs, result in airway blockage and further breakdown of the airways. Bronchiectasis may result from a number of infective and acquired causes, including pneumonia, tuberculosis, immune system problems, and cystic fibrosis.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
COPD is a chronic lung disease that makes it hard to breathe. The disease is increasingly common, affecting millions of Americans, and is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. COPD damages the airways in your lungs, and leads to shortness of breath, impacting your work, exercise, sleep and other everyday activities.
Many people don’t experience symptoms of COPD until later stages of the disease. Symptoms include chronic cough, shortness of breath while doing everyday activities, frequent respiratory infections, blueness of the lips or fingernail beds, fatigue, and wheezing.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), American Lung Association, http://www.lung.org/lung-health-and-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/copd/
Deep Venous Thrombosis (DVT)
Deep Vein Thrombosis is a condition in which a blood clot forms in one or more of the deep veins in your body, usually in the legs. This can occur if one is sitting still for a long time, or if one has other medical conditions that affect how the blood clots. DVT is a serious condition because a blood clot can break loose from the vein, travel through the bloodstream, and lodge in the lungs which blocks blood flow and can cause a pulmonary embolism, which can be fatal. While there are not usually symptoms, when they do occur symptoms include swelling in the affected area, pain, warmth over the affected area, and changes in the skin color.
Risk factors for increasing the chance of developing DVT include sitting for long periods of time, inheriting a blood-clotting disorder, prolonged bed rest, injury or surgery, pregnancy, cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, heart failure, birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy, a pacemaker, a history of DVT or pulmonary embolism, family history of CVT, being overweight, smoking, age, or height as taller men are more likely to suffer blood clots. Treatment for DVT usually includes blood thinning medication, which decrease the blood’s ability to clot. These medications can have serious side effects such as increased risk of bleeding.
Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), Mayo Clinic (Mar. 6, 2018), https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/deep-vein-thrombosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20352557
Hypercapnia occurs when you have too much carbon dioxide in your bloodstream. It usually happens as a result of hypoventilation, or not being able to breathe properly to get oxygen into your lungs.
Symptoms of hypercapnia include flushed skin, drowsiness or inability to focus, mild headaches, feeling disoriented or dizzy, shortness of breath, and being abnormally tired or exhausted. More severe symptoms of hypercapnia include unexplained feelings of confusion, abnormal feelings of paranoia or depression, abnormal muscle twitching, irregular heartbeat, hyperventilation, seizures, panic attack, and passing out.
Tim Jewell, Hypercapnia: What Is It and How Is It Treated?, Health Line (updated May 2, 2017), https://www.healthline.com/health/hypercapnia#outlook.
Hypoxemia is a below-normal level of oxygen in your blood, specifically in the arteries. Hypoxemia is a sign of a problem related to breathing or circulation, and may result in various symptoms, such as shortness of breath. Hypoxemia is determined by measuring the oxygen level in a blood sample taken from an artery. It can also be estimated by measuring the oxygen saturation of your blood using a pulse oximeter.
Causes of hypoxemia include airway obstruction, anemia, ARDS, certain medications such as narcotics which depress breathing, congenital heart disease, COPD, Emphysema, high altitudes, etc.
Hypoxemia, Mayo Clinic (Jan. 11, 2018), https://www.mayoclinic.org/symptoms/hypoxemia/basics/when-to-see-doctor/sym-20050930
Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF)
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is a type of lung disease that results in scarring (fibrosis) of the lungs for an unknown reason. Over time, the scarring gets worse and it becomes hard to take in a deep breath and the lungs cannot take in enough oxygen. IPF is a form of interstitial lung disease, primarily involving the interstitium (the tissue and space around the air sacs of the lungs), and not directly affecting the airways or blood vessels.
The two main symptoms of IPF are breathlessness and chronic cough. Other symptoms include chest pain or tightness, unexplained weight loss, loss of appetite, tiredness and loss of energy, and change of finger shape.
Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, The Lung Association (updated June 2, 2018), https://www.lung.ca/lung-health/lung-disease/idiopathic-pulmonary-fibrosis
Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD)
Interstitial (in-tur-STISH-ul) lung disease describes a large group of disorders, most of which cause progressive scarring of lung tissue. The scarring associated with interstitial lung disease eventually affects your ability to breathe and get enough oxygen into your bloodstream. ISL can be caused by long-term exposure to hazardous materials (i.e. asbestos) and having an autoimmune disease (i.e. rheumatoid arthritis).
Symptoms include shortness of breath at rest or aggravated by exertion and dry cough.
Interstitial Lung Disease. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/interstitial-lung-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20353108
Obstructive Lung Disease
People with obstructive lung disease have shortness of breath due to difficulty exhaling all the air from the lungs. Because of damages to the lungs or narrowing of the airways inside the lungs, exhaled air comes out more slowly than normal. At the end of a full exhalation, an abnormally high amount of air may still linger in the lungs.
Obstructive lung disease makes it harder to breathe, especially during increased activity or exertion. As the rate of breathing increases, there is less time to breathe all the air out before the next inhalation.
Obstructive and Restrictive Lung Disease, WebMD, https://www.webmd.com/lung/obstructive-and-restrictive-lung-disease#1
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