Respiratory System Disorders

respiratory system disorders

What are Respiratory Disorders?

A disorder is defined as a state of irregular functioning of the body.

The respiratory system disorders or respiratory diseases are the medical terms used to study about the various types of infections, allergies and other diseases related to the different organs, tissues and specialized cells of the human respiratory system.

Respiration could be termed as the process of inhaling oxygen gas from the atmosphere and exhaling carbon dioxide through the tissue of the respiratory system. This process is also called as breathing. Respiration is a type of metabolic process which involves energy production indirectly by the oxidation of complex substances. The respiratory system mainly consists of the upper respiratory tract, alveoli, bronchi, bronchioles, trachea, pleura, and pleural cavity. The common cold is an example of mild respiratory disorders and other serious and life-threatening respiratory disorders include pneumonia, lung cancer and asthma, influenza, tuberculosis, etc.

There are several factors associated with the respiratory system disorders. Few factors include:

  1. Genetics
  2. Allergies
  3. Smoking
  4. Air Pollution
  5. Bacterial and viral infections.

Types of Respiratory System Disorders

Respiratory system disorders affect millions of people worldwide and asthma is a serious respiratory complication which can also lead to a number of serious respiratory complications including COPD – Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

There are three main types of respiratory disease:

  1. Airway disease– It affects the bronchial tubes, which functions by transporting oxygen and other gases in and out of the lungs. In airway disease, the passageway for air is reduced which is associated either with narrowing or blocking of bronchial tubes.
  2. Lung tissue disease – Human lungs are covered by a thin tissue layer called the pleura. Due to certain viral or bacterial infections, the structure of the lung tissues are affected, which results in scarring or inflammation of the tissue that enables lungs to expand normally and in turn, makes breathing difficult.
  3. Lung circulation disease– This disorder occurs when the blood vessels of the lungs are coagulated, swollen or damaged. This affects the ability of the lungs to receive oxygen and release carbon dioxide. In extreme cases, this disorder may affect the functioning of the heart.


Asthma is a chronic disease which affects the bronchi and bronchioles of the lungs. It causes difficulty in breathing and followed with a severe cough, restlessness, cough and a wheezing sound while breathing.

Causes of asthma

Asthma might cause due to the following factors:

  • Cold air
  • Airborne allergens
  • Respiratory infections
  • Physical activity
  • Air pollutants


Emphysema is defined as the chronic disease reduction of the respiratory surface due to the damage to the lung alveolar walls. It is caused mainly by cigarette smoking. The main symptoms of emphysema include shortness of breath and cough. Emphysema might lead to a loss of elasticity of the lungs.

Causes of emphysema

Emphysema may be caused by the following factors:

  • Dust
  • Chemicals
  • Air pollution
  • Smoking tobacco
  • Exposure to passive cigarette smoking

Occupational Respiratory Disorders

Occupational respiratory disorders are defined as any disorder which affects the respiratory system by long-term inhalation of chemicals, proteins, and dust. For instance, Asbestosis that is caused by the inhalation of asbestos dust.

Causes of occupational respiratory disorders

Occupational respiratory disorders might happen due to the inhalation of the following substances:

  • Fumes from metals.
  • Smoke from burning organic materials.
  • Sprays of varnish, paint, acids, and pesticides.
  • Dust from cotton, silica, coal, drug powders and pesticides.
  • Gases from industries. For instance, Ammonia, chlorine and nitrogen oxides.

For more additional information about the respiratory system and its disorders, check for the links given below.

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