Respiratory disease

Respiratory disease

Respiratory disease is a medical term that encompasses pathological conditions affecting the organs and tissues that make gas exchange possible in higher organisms, and includes conditions of the upper respiratory tract, trachea, bronchi, bronchioles, alveoli, pleura and pleural cavity, and the nerves and muscles of breathing. Respiratory diseases range from mild and self-limiting, such as the common cold, to life-threatening entities like bacterial pneumonia, pulmonary embolism, acute asthma and lung cancer.
The study of respiratory disease is known as pulmonology. A doctor who specializes in respiratory disease is known as a pulmonologist, a chest medicine specialist, a respiratory medicine specialist, a respirologist or a thoracic medicine specialist.
Pleural cavity diseases include pleural mesothelioma which are mentioned above.
A collection of fluid in the pleural cavity is known as a pleural effusion. This may be due to fluid shifting from the bloodstream into the pleural cavity due to conditions such as congestive heart failure and cirrhosis. It may also be due to inflammation of the pleura itself as can occur with infection, pulmonary embolus, tuberculosis, mesothelioma and other conditions.
A pneumothorax is a hole in the pleura covering the lung allowing air in the lung to escape into the pleural cavity. The affected lung “collapses” like a deflated balloon. A tension pneumothorax is a particularly severe form of this condition where the air in the pleural cavity cannot escape, so the pneumothorax keeps getting bigger until it compresses the heart and blood vessels, leading to a life-threatening situation.
Respiratory disease is a common and significant cause of illness and death around the world. In the US, approximately 1 billion "common colds" occur each year. A study found that in 2010, there were approximately 6.8 million emergency department visits for respiratory disorders in the U.S. for patients under the age of 18. In 2012, respiratory conditions were the most frequent reasons for hospital stays among children.
In the UK, approximately 1 in 7 individuals are affected by some form of chronic lung disease, most commonly chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, which includes asthma, chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
Respiratory diseases (including lung cancer) are responsible for over 10% of hospitalizations and over 16% of deaths in Canada.
In 2011, respiratory disease with ventilator support accounted for 93.3% of ICU utilization in the United States.

 



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