Respiratory diseases account for some of the most prevalent medical conditions across the globe. Smoking, genetics, infection and workplace environmental hazards are responsible for the majority of lung diseases. Let’s take a look at the five most common lung diseases in India.
- Asthma: A chronic respiratory condition, it causes difficulty in breathing due to inflammation of the airways. Certain allergic reactions, infections and pollution can aggravate the condition and trigger an asthma attack. Symptoms of asthma include wheezing, dry cough, tightness of chest and shortness of breath. A reversible obstructive lung condition, it usually starts in childhood years and progresses into adulthood. While scientists haven’t been able to find its exact cause, it is usually attributed to a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An umbrella term, COPD encompasses a host of respiratory problems that cause either breathlessness or an inability to exhale normally. While the disease usually affects people in their 30s and 40s, it remains undetected due to the lack of symptoms. A serious disease, its most common cause is cigarette smoking and it leads to deterioration in the patient’s quality of life. Treatment options include bronchodilator therapy to open the airways for easier breathing, smoking cessation and pulmonary rehabilitation.
- Lung Cancer: This cancer usually affects the main part of the lungs, near the air sacs, affecting their regular function. It is caused due to DNA mutations in the lungs which in turn cause multiplication of irregular cells or an uncontrolled growth or tumor. The biggest risk factor for lung cancer is cigarette smoke. Other common risk factors include exposure to radon, asbestos, diesel fumes, radiation, secondhand smoke, air pollution, etc. Symptoms of lung cancer include changes in voice, chronic coughing, harsh breathing sounds and coughing blood.
- Cystic Fibrosis: A genetic respiratory disease, a defective gene creates thick and sticky mucus which in turn clogs the air passageways and tubes. Symptoms of cystic fibrosis include salty-tasting skin, frequent lung infections, chronic cough and a poor growth rate in children. The mucous not only leads to lung infections but also creates an obstruction in the pancreas, preventing important enzymes from breaking down in the body.
- Pneumonia: A common lung disease, pneumonia is caused due to a bacterial, viral or fungal infection in the air sacs of the lungs. While most people recover within three weeks, in serious conditions, it can be life-threatening. Infants and old people are most at risk of getting pneumonia and suffering from its consequences. Symptoms of pneumonia include shaking chills, fever, cough, chest pain, weakness and shortness of breath. Treatment depends on the type and severity of the condition. While bacterial pneumonia can be treated with antibiotics, fungal pneumonia requires antifungal medication.
While we have no control over genetic risk factors, environmental exposure to pollutants and other toxic materials can be kept in check. If you identify symptoms of any of these respiratory disorders in a family member, then seek immediate medical assistance and help them find relief through effective treatment.