Introduction of Respiratory Conditions


Let’s begin your respiratory introduction into a host of conditions out there. Asthma is defined as a common, chronic respiratory condition that causes difficulty breathing due to inflammation of the airways. Some asthma symptoms include dry cough, wheezing, chest tightness and shortness of breath. Did you know that asthma is a breathing problem that can affect people at any age? Everyone is susceptible to asthma.

Many people get asthma as adults while others can suffer symptoms from asthma during childhood.

This condition cannot be cured but through proper treatment it can be controlled. In a few cases it can go away in the teen years but the asthma symptoms can return later in life. This is just one condition as a respiratory introduction.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Another condition in respiratory introduction is COPD. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is an umbrella term that encompasses several respiratory illnesses that cause breathlessness, or the inability to exhale normally. People usually experience symptoms, including shortness of breath, and normally cough up sputum (mucus from the lungs), especially in the morning. COPD can be tricky for some people to identify, because symptoms are often mistaken for the gradual aging process and body deterioration. In fact, COPD can develop over the course of several years without any signs of shortness of breath.

Chronic Bronchitis

Chronic bronchitis is a form of COPD emphasized by a chronic cough. Usually people cough up mucus from the lungs, especially in the morning. This happens because mucus glands in the airways increase output, and patients have to cough that extra secretion out. Since chronic bronchitis is a form of COPD, it’s treated the same way. People can also develop acute bronchitis, which is not a long-term disease but rather an infectious problem. It develops from a viral or bacterial infection and can be treated with antibiotics. Symptoms associated with acute bronchitis will subside once the infection has resolved.

Sleep Apnea

One respiratory introduction condition you may not be aware of is sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is when there are pauses in breathing that happen while you sleep. These breathing pauses are called apneas or apnea events. They can last for 10 seconds or longer. People with sleep apnea can stop breathing hundreds of times each night. This results in disrupted sleep and low levels of oxygen.

This condition stops you from having the restful sleep you need to stay healthy. If not treated, sleep apnea can lead to daytime sleepiness and trouble thinking clearly. People with untreated sleep apnea have an increased risk of car or work accidents, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure or early death. Sleep apnea is a serious, possibly life-threatening condition.

Main Types of Sleep Apnea

1. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) happens when the tissues at the back of your throat collapse and partly or fully block your upper airways. Even though you are still trying to breathe, there is very little or no air getting into your lungs. OSA is the most common form of sleep apnea and is the focus of this handbook.

2. Central sleep apnea happens when the brain fails to signal the muscles’ need to breathe. It is not as common as obstructive sleep apnea.

3. Mixed or complex sleep apnea is a blend of both central and obstructive sleep apneas. Each episode usually begins with no breathing effort (central sleep apnea). The breathing effort then starts, but the airway is blocked (obstructive sleep apnea).


Pneumonia is a common lung disease caused by an infection in the air sacs in the lungs. The infections can be bacterial, viral or fungal. Most people can recover in one to three weeks, but for certain people, pneumonia can be extremely serious and even life-threatening. Patients can be at increasingly susceptible to pneumonia, based on their smoking history or just their overall immune status. Symptoms, which include cough, fever, shaking chills and shortness of breath, can range from mild to severe. For adults over 65 or those with other chronic disease should get the pneumococcal pneumonia vaccine. Some suggested ways to prevent this respiratory condition include washing hands frequently and getting the flu shot.


Emphysema is a serious respiratory disease, which is another form of COPD. The most common cause is smoking. Those who suffer from emphysema have trouble exhaling air from their lungs. Cigarette smoke damages the air sacs in the lungs to a point where they can no longer repair themselves. This respiratory system illness most commonly leads to respiratory failure and the need for extra oxygen to meet breathing needs. Emphysema evolves slowly over the years, and there is no cure; however, those who quit smoking are more likely to see the disease’s progression slow.

Pleural Effusion

Pleural effusion, sometimes referred to as “water on the lungs,” is the build-up of excess fluid between the layers of the pleura outside the lungs. The pleura are thin membranes that line the lungs and the inside of the chest cavity and act to lubricate and facilitate breathing. Normally, a small amount of fluid is present in the pleura. The fluid can collect for a variety of reasons, including pneumonia, cancer or congestive heart failure. Usually patients notice symptoms of increasing chest discomfort and shortness of breath. This diagnosis usual undergoes a procedure to remove the fluid, which allows the lung to re-expand, allowing the patient to breathe better. Then, the fluid is tested to determine what’s causing it and a treatment plan is formed.

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