Respiratory illnesses are conditions affecting the upper respiratory tract, producing symptoms mainly in the nose and throat. Upper respiratory infections include conditions such as colds, laryngitis, pharyngitis, rhinitis, and sinusitis. Additionally, respiratory conditions include infections of the lower respiratory tract, which may affect the windpipe, airways, and lungs. Lower respiratory tract infections include conditions such as asbestosis, asthma, and sarcoidosis.
The respiratory system consists of organs that process air in the body, including the nose, throat, and lungs. The nose is the entrance to the respiratory tract. The throat is the hollow tube inside the neck that starts behind the nose and ends at the top of the trachea (windpipe) and esophagus (the tube that goes to the stomach). The lungs are the organs that make it possible for people to breathe; their principal function is to transport oxygen from the atmosphere into the bloodstream and to release carbon dioxide from the bloodstream into the atmosphere.
During a normal day, the average person breathes nearly 25,000 times, taking in large amounts of air. According to the American Lung Association, approximately 342,000 Americans die from lung diseases each year; lung disease is the number three cause of death in the United States, responsible for one in seven deaths.
Many factors, including genetics, pollutants and irritants, and infectious diseases, may affect the health of the respiratory system.
ACE inhibitor-associated cough, acute respiratory distress syndrome, airway obstruction, asbestosis, asthma, bronchial congestion, bronchiolitis, chest X-ray, common cold, congestion, cough, croup, decongestant, dyspnea (shortness of breath), eucalyptus aromatherapy, expectorant, FBD, functional breathing disorder, hypoxia, laryngitis, lower respiratory infection, lung cancer, lung infections, nasal congestion, nasopharyngitis, pharyngitis, pulmonary conditions, pulmonary hypertension, recurrent sneezing, respiration, respiratory disease, respiratory distress, respiratory infection, respiratory problems, respiratory syncytial virus, respiratory tract infection, rhinitis, rhinopharyngitis, runny nose, sarcoidosis, sinus congestion, sore throat, strep throat, stuffy nose, tonsillitis, upper respiratory tract infection, vasodilator.
types of the disease
Asbestosis: Asbestosis is a lung condition caused by breathing in asbestos fibers. Usually, when particles in the air are breathed in, they are filtered out by the nose or the upper airways of the lungs. But asbestos particles are very thin and light and sometimes are not filtered out before they reach the lungs. Asbestos can damage lung tissue and is responsible for causing several serious diseases, including cancer.
Asthma: According to the American Lung association, approximately 20 million Americans have asthma, which causes about 5,000 deaths each year. Asthma is a chronic, inflammatory lung disease. The air passages within the lungs are constantly swollen, restricting the amount of air allowed to pass through the trachea. Asthmatics have recurrent breathing problems and a tendency to cough and wheeze.
Common cold: The common cold, or acute viral nasopharyngitis, is an upper respiratory tract infection caused by a virus, which may involve the nose, throat, sinuses, Eustachian tubes (connects the ears to the throat), trachea (windpipe), larynx (voice box), and bronchial tubes (airways). Colds are one of the leading causes of doctor visits and missed days from school and work. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 22 million school days are lost annually in the United States as a result of the common cold. Over the course of a year, people in the United States suffer one billion colds, according to some estimates.
Cough: Coughs can either be classified as acute or chronic. Acute coughs usually begin suddenly and are often due to a cold, flu, or sinus infection. Acute coughs generally go away within two to three weeks. However chronic coughs last longer than two to three weeks.
Croup: Croup is a viral infection that causes the upper part of the windpipe (larynx) to swell and is usually caused by one of the cold viruses.
Laryngitis: Laryngitis is an inflammation of the voice box (larynx) usually associated with hoarseness or loss of voice. Laryngitis may be classified as acute (lasting for a short amount of time) or chronic (long-lasting).
Pharyngitis: Pharyngitis or sore throat is an inflammation of the pharynx, the passageway that connects the oral and nasal cavities. Most cases of pharyngitis occur during the colder months and often spread among family members. Infections of the pharynx usually involve the tonsils (fleshy tissue in the back of the throat that are part of the body's immune defense), and tonsillitis (inflammation of the tonsils) was once a common name for infectious pharyngitis. Infectious pharyngitis accounts for approximately 10 million visits to the doctor's office each year.
Pulmonary hypertension: According to the Pulmonary Hypertension Association, over 100,000 people suffer from pulmonary hypertension. Pulmonary hypertension occurs when there is high blood pressure in the lungs. Pulmonary hypertension results from constriction or tightening of the blood vessels that supply blood to the lungs. As a result, it becomes difficult for blood to pass through the lungs, making it harder for the heart to pump blood forward. This leads to enlargement of the heart and eventually fluid may build up in the liver and tissues, such as the in the legs.
Respiratory distress syndrome (adults): Adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a life-threatening lung condition. It is a form of breathing failure that can occur in very ill or severely injured people. It is not a specific disease. It starts with swelling of tissue in the lungs and buildup of fluid in the tiny air sacs that transfer oxygen to the bloodstream. This leads to low blood oxygen levels.
Respiratory distress syndrome (infants): Respiratory distress syndrome is life threatening and one of the most common lung disorders in premature babies. Additionally, nearly all babies born before 28 weeks of pregnancy develop respiratory distress syndrome. According to the American Lung Association, infant respiratory distress syndrome was the seventh leading cause of death in infants under one year of age in the United States, accounting for 3.2 percent of all infant deaths.
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV): RSV is a virus that causes infection of the lungs and breathing passages and is most common among infants and children under one year of age.
Rhinitis: Rhinitis affects over 50 million people and is considered one of the most common illnesses in the United States. Rhinitis is the medical term for inflammation of the nose and can be classified as either allergic or non-allergic. Allergic rhinitis occurs when the body's immune system overreacts to an airborne substance (allergen) that is normally harmless, such as mold, pollen, animal dander, or dust mites. Once the allergen is inhaled through the nose, white blood cells of an allergic individual produce an antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE). This immunoglobulin attaches to the allergen, which triggers the release of histamine and other inflammatory chemicals that cause allergic rhinitis symptoms, such as runny nose and nasal congestion.
There are two types of allergic rhinitis: seasonal allergic rhinitis and perennial allergic rhinitis. Seasonal allergic rhinitis, also called pollinosis, hay fever, or nasal allergies, is characterized by several symptoms, predominantly in the nose and eyes. Symptoms occur after airborne allergens like dust, dander, or pollen are inhaled. When pollens cause the allergic symptoms, the allergic rhinitis is commonly referred to as "hay fever." According to the American Lung association, an estimated 26.1 million Americans have hay fever symptoms each year; 14.6 million Americans have asthma, which often accompanies hay fever. Perennial allergic rhinitis is an allergic reaction to allergens (substances that can cause an allergic reaction) that is not seasonal. Instead, symptoms are persistent and generally less severe than seasonal allergic rhinitis. Non-allergic rhinitis usually affects adults and causes year round symptoms, but the immune system is not involved. Several causes of non-allergic rhinitis include the following: infections, irritants (e.g. dust, secondhand smoke, perfumes), weather changes, emotional or physical stress, hormonal changes, certain foods and beverages, certain medications (e.g. aspirin, ibuprofen ), and long-term use of decongestant nasal sprays.
Sarcoidosis: Sarcoidosis is commonly found in the lungs and is characterized by the presence of granulomas, small areas of inflamed cells. This may lead to loss of lung volume (the amount of air lungs can hold) and abnormal lung stiffness. Sarcoidosis is most common among African Americans and northern European whites. Additionally, the disease usually affects people between the ages of 20 and 40.
Sinusitis: There are three classifications of sinusitis: acute, chronic, and recurrent. Acute sinusitis lasts for less than six months, and it is usually caused by a bacterial infection. Most cases of sinusitis are acute. When symptoms last between four and eight weeks, the condition is considered to be subacute. Symptoms of chronic sinusitis last eight weeks or longer and the severity varies. Symptoms for acute and chronic sinusitis are very similar, except chronic sinusitis symptoms last longer and often cause more fatigue. According to the CDC, chronic sinusitis affects nearly 35 million people in the United States. When an individual suffers from three or more episodes of acute sinusitis per year, the condition is referred to as recurrent sinusitis.