Lung disease is a broad term used to describe any medical problem that prevents the lungs from functioning properly. There are three primary lung disease types:1 2
- Airway diseases - These are lung diseases that affect the tubes that allow air to flow to the lungs. These kinds of lung disease create a blockage or a narrowing of the airways, causing difficulty breathing. Airway disease include asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder (COPD) and bronchiectasis.
- Lung tissue diseases - Lung tissue disease involve scarring or inflammation of the pulmonary tissue. This causes the lungs to become restricted and unable to expand to full capacity. Lung tissue diseases include pulmonary fibrosis and sarcoidosis.
- Lung circulation diseases - Lung circulation diseases prevent the lungs from taking up oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide due to damaged or affected blood vessels in the lungs. Pulmonary hypertension is a type of lung circulation disease.
Certain conditions can involve multiple lung disease types. The most common lung disease types include:1 2
- COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder)
- Collapsed lung
- Lung cancer (small cell or non-small cell types)
- Pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs)
- Pulmonary embolism (blockage in blood vessels)
What Causes Lung Disease?
Because there are different lung disease types there are also different lung disease causes. Some of the contributing factors to developing lung disease include:3
- Smoking cigarettes
- Exposure to air pollution, mold and other environmental toxins
- Inhaling asbestos (asbestosis)
- Exposure to radon
- Bacteria, viruses or allergens
Depending on the specific lung disease type or condition , there may be other possible lung disease causes and risk factors.
Lung Disease Symptoms
Because there are many forms of lung disease, there are also broad lung disease symptoms. Some of the lung disease symptoms to be aware of include:3
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty breathing
- Tightening across the chest
- Not being able to inhale deeply
- Pain while breathing
- Coughing up mucous and blood
- Persistent cough
- Loss of breath after exercising or inability to exercise
Often the different lung disease symptoms can overlap between different conditions. Therefore the symptoms of asthma, COPD, pneumonia and bronchitis can all crossover. Additionally, heart disease, anxiety and panic attacks can also cause similar symptoms such as chest tightening and shortness of breath.3