Symptoms: Major symptom is shortness of breath that can even occur while at rest. Other symptoms can include chronic cough, frequent respiratory infections, a reduced appetite, weight loss and fatigue.
Risk factors: Smoking, increasing age, exposure to secondhand smoke, occupational toxins, air pollution.
Causes: Smoking (leading cause), long-term exposure to airborne irritants, inherited deficiency (Alpha-1 antitrypsin emphysema).
The following table provides an overview of the major lung disorders: Asthma, Emphysema and COPD
|Asthma||Respiratory disease in which airways in the lungs become inflamed and constricted.||Nearly 23 million Americans, including seven million children.||Attacks cause wheezing, coughing, breathlessness, chest tightness. Symptoms can range from wheezing to lifethreatening attacks!||Family medical history, secondhand smoke, air pollution, respiratory childhood infections, low birth weight, being overweight.||No proven cause. Attacks are in response to “triggers," which can include pollutants, common allergens, stress, cold air, colds, certain medications.||No cure. Can be treated and controlled by avoiding triggers, taking medications as prescribed.|
|Emphysema||Air sacs in the lungs are gradually destroyed.||Major cause of death and disability; affects three million Americans.||Shortness of breath that causes an interruption in activities and can even occur while at rest.||Smoking, increasing age, exposure to secondhand smoke, occupational toxins, air pollution.||Smoking (leading cause), long-term exposure to airborne irritants, inherited deficiency (Alpha-1 antitrypsin emphysema).||Cannot be cured but treatment may relieve symptoms and slow progression. Managed with healthy lifestyle habits, medications, oxygen therapy, pulmonary rehabilitation programs, surgery.|
|COPD||An umbrella term used to describe any long-term, nonreversible damage to the lungs that interferes with normal breathing. In the U.S., chronic bronchitis and emphysema are the two main conditions that make up COPD.||Third-leading cause of death and a major cause of disability. 12 million Americans have been diagnosed with COPD and another 12 million are thought to have COPD and not know it.||Coughing, coughing with mucus, breathlessness, lack of energy, weakness.||Smoking, longterm exposure to harmful pollutants, lack of exercise, being overweight, being female, increasing age.||Smoking, pollutants, genetic conditions, poor health, lifestyle habits.||There is no cure: managed with healthy lifestyle habits,medications, oxygen therapy, pulmonary rehabilitation programs, surgery.|