1. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

COPD is one of the most common lung diseases that make breathing difficult. COPD consists of a combination of the following two lung diseases:

  1. Emphysema: progressive disease of the lungs in which lung tissue is destroyed
  2. Chronic bronchitis: long term cough with mucus.

COPD is often caused by smoking and damage is permanent even after a person stops smoking. Primary symptoms include shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chronic cough and an expanded chest. COPD may be identified by spirometry and comprehensive lung function testing. There is no cure for COPD but quitting smoking will slow progress of the disease. Additional treatment may include medicines, vaccines, pulmonary rehabilitation, oxygen therapy and surgery.

2. Restrictive Lung Disease

Restrictive Lung Disease is a lung disease that causes a decrease in the ability to expand the lung (breathe in), which may make it difficult to get enough oxygen. Restrictive lung disease is typically caused by scarring (and subsequent stiffness) of the lungs, which may be a result of long-term asbestos exposure, radiation or chemotherapy from cancer treatment, allergic reaction to inhaled particles, connective tissue disease (such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus), certain drugs, neuromuscular disease, obesity, etc. Primary symptoms are shortness of breath and cough. Interstitial Lung Disease is a type of Restrictive Lung Disease. Restrictive Lung Disease may be identified by comprehensive lung function tests, blood testing, chest x-ray, CT scan and lung biopsy. Treatment may include avoiding lung irritants, pulmonary rehabilitation, oxygen therapy, steroids, vaccines, or bronchodilators if small airways are obstructed.

3. Asthma

Asthma is a chronic disease that inflames and narrows the airways, making it difficult to breathe air in and out of the lungs. Symptoms include wheezing, coughing, chest tightness and shortness of breath. A spirometry test may identify asthma but the Mannitol Challenge Test will more accurately diagnose this disease. Asthma is most often treated with inhaled medicines known as bronchodilators.