Respiratory Disorders Unraveled: Breath of Knowledge

The human respiratory system helps the body to absorb oxygen from the air so organs can work easily. Respiratory system is the network of tissues and organs that helps in breathing. It is divided into two major components – respiratory tracts and respiratory organs.The respiratory tract is further divided into upper respiratory tract and lower respiratory tract. The main function of the respiratory tract is to moisten the air.  

The study of respiratory disorders known as pulmonology. Respiratory disorders include disorders such as cystic fibrosis, bronchial asthma, lung cancer, bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema and tuberculosis. There are various factors associated with respiratory disorders. Some factors are allergies, genetics, smoking, air pollution and viral infections. 

Common Symptoms And Signs Of Respiratory Disorders 

Common symptoms of disorders are Haemoptysis, cough, sputum, chest pain, cyanosis, dyspnoea and clubbing of fingers.

  • Haemoptysis – Blood in the sputum is called Haemoptysis. Common symptoms are due to inflammatory lung diseases such as bronchitis, pneumonia, lung abscess. It may be due to neoplasms of lungs such as bronchial adenoma or carcinoma.  Other associated causes are due to cardiovascular disease such as mitral stenosis or left ventricular failure.
  • Cough – It is very common symptom in respiratory disorders. The cough is induced by the stimulation of cough receptors in the respiratory tract. Cough is commonly associated with episodic wheezing secondary to bronchoconstriction. It may dry or be productive. Generally, it is worse at night. 
  • Sputum – The abnormal tracheobronchial secretion is called sputum. It is commonly seen in acute bronchitis , pneumonia, bronchiectasis and lung abscess. 
  • Chest Pain – Pain originates from the lungs or pleura. Chest pain is associated with various causes like costochondritis, trauma to chest, chronic bronchitis, pneumonia, malignant lung tumours, angina pectoris and GERD. 
  • Cyanosis – Blue discoloration of skin is called cyanosis. It takes place due to an increased amount of haemoglobin in blood. Common sites to be seen are lips, fingertips and nail beds. Common causes are related to pulmonary, cardiovascular and blood disorders.  
  • Dyspnea – It is an abnormal and uncomfortable breathing which makes the patient aware of it. Common causes are systemic hypertension, left ventricular failure, bronchial asthma, bronchial carcinoma, tuberculosis etc.
  • Clubbing of Fingers – it is enlargement of the distal segment of fingers and toes due to increase in soft tissue.It takes place due to disorders of heart, lungs, GI tracts etc. 
Common Types Of Respiratory disorders 

AsthmaIt is a disease of airways produced by hypersensitivity response tracheobronchial tree to a wide variety of stimuli resulting in reversible narrowing of the air passages. It can be acute and chronic. Trigger factors of asthma are allergens for atopic, cold air, tobacco, smoke, respiratory infections. Management includes avoidance of allergens, treatment of comorbid, prevention of mediators of bronchoconstriction and drug treatments.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease It is characterised by irreversible obstruction to the airflow throughout the lungs. It includes two important disorders which are chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Common etiological factors are smoke, industrial pollutants, infection, oxidant injury, genetic and hereditary. Common symptoms are chronic cough, weight loss, wheezing, tightness in the chest etc.Treatment includes ; to avoid bronchial irritants, treatment of infection and bronchodilators.   

Lung Cancer – It is the common type of cancer or respiratory disorders. Biggest risk factor is cigarette smoking. Symptoms are chest pain, chronic cough, wheezing and difficulty swallowing. Types of treatments for lung cancer are chemotherapy, surgery and radiation therapy. 

Pneumonias It is an inflammation of the parenchyma of lungs. Common clinical symptoms are shaking chills and rigor, high grade fever, headache and body pain, pleuritic chest pain, and cough or dyspnea. Management includes antibiotics, oxygen therapy , analgesics and physiotherapy.   

Tuberculosis It is a serious illness that mainly affects lungs. It can spread in an individual suffering from cough or sneezes. Common symptoms are cough, low fever, chest pain, night sweats and tiredness. Antibiotics can treat tuberculosis, but some forms of bacteria no longer respond well to these treatments. 

EmphysemaIt is a type of COPD that occurs when the tiny air sacs  in the lungs lose their elasticity. Main cause of it is smoking, but other causes include air pollution.  Common symptoms are shortness of breath, fatigue and coughing. Treatment includes quitting smoking and taking proper medications. 

Investigations For Respiratory Disorders

After careful detailed history and physical symptoms, investigations should be planned to determine the nature, severity, extent, and the effect of the disease on the body. The choice of investigation varies from patient to patient, and disease to disease. Investigations can take place on noninvasive procedures and invasive procedures. 

Noninvasive procedures include chest x-ray, screening of the chest, CT scan, MRI, positron emission tomography, microbial examination, several skin tests, serological tests and pulmonary function tests. 

Invasive procedures include laryngoscopy, bronchoscopy, mediastinoscopy, pleural aspiration, pulmonary angiography, and lung biopsy. 

Final Words 

Any part of the respiratory system can be affected and can lead to various complications. Respiratory disorders can arise from a number of causes, accidents, harmful lifestyles, Infections, genetic factors, and anything else that affects lung development, either directly or indirectly, can cause respiratory symptoms. One key to take away the disease is to early detection, timely intervention are crucial in managementing these disorders effectively.

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