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List of Respiratory System Diseases and Their Signs, Symptoms and Complications

written by: Roohi Khan • edited by: Emma Lloyd • updated: 5/18/2011

Dealing with coughing, wheezing or difficulty breathing? This list of respiratory diseases will help you understand what could be causing your symptoms. Consult your doctor to find out more about each disease.

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    Any condition that affects the respiratory system is referred to as a respiratory disease or disorder. Respiration is the act of inhaling or taking in oxygen and exhaling or giving off the carbon dioxide. Various respiratory organs are involved during this process of inhalation and exhalation. The upper respiratory tract includes the nose, pharynx, sinuses, larynx, and the trachea, whereas the lower respiratory tract includes the lungs, bronchi, and the alveoli. This article gives a list of respiratory diseases and disorders along with their causes and symptoms.

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    Upper Respiratory Tract

    Common cold

    A list of respiratory diseases has to begin with the most common of all diseases, that is, the common cold. The rhinoviruses and the coronaviruses are the most common causes of a cold. The symptoms of a common cold may include a stuffy, runny nose, sneezing, watery eyes, low fever, sore throat, mild cough, muscle ache, and thick yellow or green discharge from the nose. Due to their immature immune system, children are at more risk of developing the common cold than adults.

    Influenza

    Another disease that cannot be left out of a list of respiratory diseases is influenza. It is a highly contagious viral respiratory tract infection caused by influenza viruses of types, A, B, and C. It is generally passed on from one person to the other through airborne transmission. Common symptoms include sudden onset of fever, sore throat, muscle ache, and a non-productive cough.

    Sinusitis

    Next on the list of respiratory diseases is sinusitis. Sinuses are air-filled pockets near the nasal passage and infection in these sinuses causes sinusitis. A sinus infection often happens after the common cold or other upper respiratory infection or due to allergies. Symptoms depend greatly on the age of the individual and may include a runny nose, cough at night, bad breath, facial pain, fever, sore throat, headaches, and drip in the throat from the nose.

    Pharyngitis and tonsillitis

    These are infections in the throat that cause swelling and can not be left out a list of respiratory diseases. When the tonsils are mainly affected, it is called tonsillitis and when the throat is more involved, it is called pharyngitis. These infections are caused by viruses and bacteria and are passed on when you come into contact with an infected person. Common symptoms include a sore throat and fever.

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    List of Lower Respiratory Tract Diseases

    Acute Bronchitis

    First on the list of respiratory diseases of the lower respiratory tract system is acute bronchitis. This is an inflammation of the mucous membranes of the bronchial tubes and is caused by bacteria or viruses or by allergens in the air. The common symptoms of acute bronchitis include runny nose, chills, sore throat, and back and muscle pain.

    Lung Cancer

    Lung cancer is one of the life-threatening conditions that cannot be left out of a list of respiratory diseases. It begins in the lining of the bronchi and develops over a period of many years. All lung cancers are carcinomas, that is, they begin in the lining or covering tissues of an organ. Once the tumor begins growing, a patient with lung cancer can develop symptoms such as cough, chest pain, wheezing, shortness of breath, and hoarseness. Smoking is responsible for about 90 percent of lung cancer cases.

    Asthma

    A chronic lung disease that causes inflammation and narrowing in the airways, asthma is a must-include in a list of respiratory diseases. Symptoms of asthma include wheezing (characterized by a whistling sound while breathing), tightness in the chest, shortness of breath, and coughing. Contact with airborne allergens and genetic factors seem to play a role in the development of asthma.

    Pneumonia

    Another disease in the list of respiratory diseases is pneumonia, which is characterized by an inflammation of the lungs caused by bacteria, viruses, or chemicals. It usually occurs when the body is weakened in some way due to illness, a weak immune system, or old age. Symptoms include shaking, chattering teeth, severe chest pain, high fever, rapid breathing, and a cough that is rust-colored or greenish.

    Tuberculosis

    The next condition in a list of respiratory diseases is tuberculosis which is a chronic bacterial infection mostly affecting the lungs. The tuberculosis bacterium spreads through the air, however, for the person to become infected, repeated exposure is usually required. Common symptoms of this disease include a cough that does not go away, loss of weight, fatigue, coughing blood, fever, and night perspiration. The elderly and people with weak immune systems are the most susceptible to get infected by the tuberculosis bacterium.

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    Getting Treatment

    This list of respiratory diseases includes the most common types but is not an exhaustive list, as there are many other known respiratory conditions. Whereas some of the conditions on this list of respiratory diseases can be diagnosed with the help of the symptoms, others may need a thorough examination including chest x-rays and lab tests. If you experience any respiratory discomfort that refuses to go away, it is advisable to consult a physician to rule out any serious medical condition.

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    References

    For more information on the conditions included in the list of respiratory diseases, please visit the following websites:

    Rush University Medical Center: Respiratory Disorders

    U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health: Lung Diseases