Respiratory Disorders

Original Editor - Lucinda hampton

Top Contributors - Lucinda hampton  

Introduction[edit | edit source]

Respiratory System basic.png

We take our breathing and our respiratory health for granted, but the lung is a vital organ that is vulnerable to airborne infection and injury, from the external environment because of its constant exposure to particles, chemicals and infectious organisms in ambient air. Respiratory symptoms are among the major causes of consultation at primary health care centres.[1]

There are two types of respiratory diseases and disorders: Infectious and Chronic.

  1. Pulmonary infections are most commonly bacterial or viral. In the viral type, a pathogen replicates inside a cell and causes a disease, such as the flu.People with weakened lungs and immune systems are more vulnerable to infectious respiratory conditions
  2. Chronic lung diseases, fall into one of two main classes: Obstructive or Restrictive[2][3].

Global Burden[edit | edit source]

Respiratory diseases world map-DALYs per million persons.png

Respiratory diseases are leading causes of death and disability in the world.

Image: Disability-adjusted life years (DALY) lost from Respiratory diseases in 2012 per million persons. Lightest colour to darkest 4,816-11,210, 11,213-13,190, 13,230-15,471, 15,473-16,342, 16,399-17,477, 17,511-17,511, 17,580-20,920, 21,024-23,320, 24,847-31,538

  • About 65 million people suffer from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and 3 million die from it each year, making it the third leading cause of death worldwide.
  • About 334 million people suffer from asthma, the most common chronic disease of childhood affecting 14% of all children globally.
  • Pneumonia kills millions of people annually and is a leading cause of death among children under 5 years old.
  • Over 10 million people develop tuberculosis (TB) and 1.4 million die from it each year, making it the most common lethal infectious disease.
  • Lung cancer kills 1.6 million people each year and is the most deadly cancer.
  • Globally, 4 million people die prematurely from chronic respiratory disease. At least 2 billion people are exposed to indoor toxic smoke, 1 billion inhale outdoor pollutant air and 1 billion are exposed to tobacco smoke.[4]

Chronic Respiratory Disorders[edit | edit source]


Chronic respiratory diseases are a group of chronic diseases affecting the airways and the other structures of the lungs. Hundreds of millions of people around the world suffer from preventable chronic respiratory diseases.[1]

1.Obstructive Conditions: involve blocked or narrowed airways, making it difficult for the lungs to exhale and exchange old air for fresh air. eg.

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease An estimated 65 million people have moderate to severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), from which about 3 million die each year.
  • Alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency
  • Normal lungs.jpg
    Asthma About 334 million people suffer from asthma [4], which is the most common chronic disease of childhood, affecting 14% of children globally. The prevalence of asthma in children is rising
  • Bronchiectasis ,
  • Cystic fibrosis.

2. Restrictive Conditions: reduces the volume of air that the lungs can hold. Lungs can lose their elasticity or the ability to

Infectious Conditions[edit | edit source]

Infectious lung conditions are usually temporary, although some respiratory infections can become chronic or frequently recur. For decades, acute lower respiratory tract infections have been among the top three causes of death and disability among both children and adults.[4]eg

  • COVID-19. Globally, as of 3:39pm CEST, 6 May 2021, there have been 154,815,600 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 3,236,104 deaths, reported to WHO. As of 4 May 2021, a total of 1,170,942,729 vaccine doses have been administered[5].
  • Pneumonia is a lung infection most commonly caused by bacteria or viruses. People with chronic respiratory conditions like COPD are more vulnerable to developing pneumonia.
  • Tuberculosis is a bacterial infection that affects the lungs and other parts of the body. TB can be inactive, or latent, for many years. In 2015, 10.4 million people developed tuberculosis (TB) and 1.4 million people died from it.[4]

The Future[edit | edit source]

Infection control mask.jpg

Respiratory diseases are an enormous challenge to life, health and productive human activity.

  • Prevention, control and cure of these diseases and promotion of respiratory health must be a top priority in global decision making in the health sector.
  • The control, prevention and cure of respiratory diseases are among the most cost-effective health interventions available.
  • Investment in respiratory health will pay manifold dividends in longevity, healthy living days and national economies.

Respiratory diseases are mostly caused by genetic and environmental factors and/or social behaviors that lead to lung inflammation, injury and remodeling, and progressive deterioration of lung function.

  • Despite progress in understanding the pathological mechanisms involved in each of these disorders, there is still no effective therapy able to halt their natural history or reverse the morphological and functional injury already established. At end-stage lung disease, lung transplantation remains the only feasible intervention.
  • The gut–lung axis has emerged as a specific axis with intensive dialogues between the gut and lungs, involving each compartment in a two-way manner, with both microbial and immune interactions . Each kingdom and compartment plays a crucial role in this dialogue, and consequently in host health and diseases. The lung microbiota is now recognized as a cornerstone in the physiopathology of numerous respiratory diseases. Their manipulation could pave the way for new approaches in the management of several respiratory diseases such as acute infections, COPD, asthma, and/or CF[6].
  • Research in respiratory diseases is the hope for today and the promise for tomorrow. Research must answer many questions: how do lung diseases arise, how do they are spread, who is vulnerable, and what actions can be used control or cure them, to name a few.[4]

Physiotherapy[edit | edit source]

See specific disease link and Respiratory Disease - ConditionsRespiratory System - Assessment and Examination‏‎ Respiratory Disease - Interventions

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 WHO Chronic respiratory diseases Available from: (accessed 7.5.2021)
  2. 2.0 2.1 US news Respiratory diseases Available from: (accessed 7.5.2021)
  3. Visible body Respiratory diseases Available from: (accessed 7.5.2021)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 FIRS The Global Impact of Respiratory Disease Available from: (accessed 7.5.2021)
  5. WHO Available:
  6. Enaud R, Prevel R, Ciarlo E, Beaufils F, Wieërs G, Guery B, Delhaes L. The gut-lung axis in health and respiratory diseases: a place for inter-organ and inter-kingdom crosstalks. Frontiers in cellular and infection microbiology. 2020 Feb 19;10:9.Available from: (accessed 8.5.2021)