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Respiratory Disorder: Types, Symptoms & Treatment

  • Synopsis: Explanations of disorders of the respiratory system including pneumonia bronchitis asthma and emphysema.

Definition: Defining the Meaning of 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, and lung cancer.

Main Document

In humans the anatomical features of the respiratory system include airways, lungs, and the respiratory muscles. Molecules of oxygen and carbon dioxide are passively exchanged, by diffusion, between the gaseous external environment and the blood. This exchange process occurs in the alveolar region of the lungs.

The respiratory system can be subdivided into an upper respiratory tract and a lower respiratory tract based on anatomical features. The upper respiratory tract includes the nasal passages, pharynx and the larynx, while the lower respiratory tract is comprised of the trachea, the primary bronchi and lungs.

The primary function of the respiratory system is to supply the blood with oxygen in order for the blood to deliver oxygen to all parts of the body. The respiratory system does this through breathing. When we breathe, we inhale oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. This exchange of gases is the respiratory system's means of getting oxygen to the blood.

The respiratory system lies dormant in the human fetus during pregnancy. At birth, the respiratory system becomes fully functional upon exposure to air, although some lung development and growth continues throughout childhood. Pre-term birth can lead to infants with under-developed lungs.

Smoking and air pollution are two common causes of respiratory problems.

Disorders of the respiratory system can be classified into four general areas:

The respiratory tract is constantly exposed to microbes due to the extensive surface area, which is why the respiratory system includes many mechanisms to defend itself and prevent pathogens from entering the body.

Common Respiratory Disorders Include:

Disorders of the respiratory system are usually treated internally by a pulmonologist or respiratory physician.

Respiratory Disease & COPD Awareness

Orange awareness ribbonU.S. COPD Coalition announced their resolution to Go Orange, declaring orange the official color of COPD Awareness. The awareness ribbon for Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) is dark blue. November is National Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Awareness Month - an estimated 24 million Americans suffer from COPD, with the most significant cause being tobacco smoke. November is also Lung Cancer Awareness Month.

Quick Facts: Respiratory Disorder

Statistics: Respiratory Disorder



Latest Respiratory Disorders Publications

Full List of Respiratory Disorders Documents (37 Items)




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