Lung Diseases Affecting the Airways

Healthy lungs allow to breathe easily, without discomfort or pain. They supply oxygen to bloodstream. The lungs' airways (bronchial tubes) divide into smaller and smaller branches (bronchioles). The airways end in air sacs (alveoli) where oxygen moves into the blood.

Main diseases that affect the airways include

A condition in which a person's airways become inflamed, narrow and swell, and produce extra mucus, which makes it difficult to breathe.

Acute bronchitis
Inflammation of the lining of bronchial tubes, which carry air to and from the lungs, usually by a virus.

Chronic bronchitis
Chronic bronchitis is one type of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). The inflamed bronchial tubes produce a lot of mucus. This leads to coughing and difficulty breathing. Cigarette smoking is the most common cause. Breathing in air pollution, fumes, or dust over a long period of time may also cause it.

Cystic fibrosis
Cystic fibrosis is an inherited disorder that causes severe damage to the lungs, digestive system and other organs in the body. Cystic fibrosis affects the cells that produce mucus, sweat and digestive juices. These secreted fluids are normally thin and slippery. But in people with cystic fibrosis, a defective gene causes the secretions to become sticky and thick. Instead of acting as a lubricant, the secretions plug up tubes, ducts and passageways, especially in the lungs and pancreas.

Emphysema is a type of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) involving damage to the air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs. As a result, body does not get the oxygen it needs. Emphysema makes it hard to catch breath. May also have a chronic cough and have trouble breathing during exercise. The most common cause is cigarette smoking.


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