Respiratory System Problems and Diseases

Respiratory system problems and diseases are on the rise today because of immense reasons. One of them is the environmental pollution. Let us understand in brief, the entire system and the related problems and diseases.
| Saturday, April 03, 2010

"Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure." - Oprah Winfrey

Breathing is vital and is autonomous. It is not possible that we decide what to breathe in and what not to and therefore the human body is gifted with the respiratory system which lets in the pure and lets out the impure. Before we understand the basics about the Respiratory system and the related problems and diseases, let us brush through certain basics.

Life begins with a cell (fundamental unit of the body). A group of cells form a tissue. A group tissues form an organ. A group of organs form a system. The organ systems co-ordinate to perform the various functions of the body like digestion, respiration, reproduction, circulation, excretion etc. In simple words it is the 'purification system' of the body, indulged in the exchange process of oxygen and carbon dioxide and functions in co-ordination with the circulatory system. The apparatus of the respiratory system are as below:

  • Nose - The first organ to let air in and the last to let air out. The nasal cavity is equipped to carry out the primary purification of air.
  • Pharynx - Also commonly known as ‘Throat’ the pharynx acts as a common junction for both air and food, directing them to their respective passages
  • Larynx - (Known as the sound box)
  • Trachea - Commonly called ‘windpipe’ and is a bridge between the larynx and the bronchi
  • Bronchi and Lungs - The Trachea branches into bronchi which enter the lungs and further branch into bronchioles.

Respiratory System Problems


Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease that narrows the airways, having symptoms like cough, wheezing, difficulty in breathing etc. It is triggered by irritants like smoke, pollens, animal hair etc.


Bronchiolitis is the inflammation of Bronchioles, having symptoms like wheezing and serious difficulty in breathing.

Respiratory Diseases

Just like any other system, the respiratory system is also exposed to a number of threats in the form of diseases. These can be classified broadly as:

Upper Respiratory Tract Infection (URTI):

  • Rhinitis  Nasal mucosa inflammation
  • Sinusitis - Inflammation of the sinuses (Maxillary: causing pain near the cheeks, Frontal: causing pain behind/above the eyes, Ethmoid: causing pain between/behind the eyes, Sphenoid: causing pain behind the eyes)
  • Pharyngitis - Inflammation of the Pharynx. It is characterized by sore throat, change in voice and difficulty in swallowing.
  • Laryngitis - Inflammation of the Larynx. It is characterized by dry cough, change in voice (hoarseness), feeling of a swelling in the throat.
  • Tracheitis - Inflammation of the Trachea. It is characterized by Hoarseness in voice, dry cough, difficulty in breathing etc. The symptoms that one experiences are headache, running nose, coughing, sneezing, mild fever etc.

URTI, if not treated, can further progress to Lower Respiratory Tract Infection.

Lower Respiratory Tract Infections (LRTI)

  • Bronchitis - It is the inflammation of the mucous in the Bronchi. It can be classified to be either chronic or acute. Chronic bronchitis is characterized by productive cough that lasts for months or even a year or two. Acute Bronchitis results out of an Upper Respiratory Tract Infection.
  • Pneumonia - It is an inflammatory condition of the lung. It may be caused due to infection or chemicals or even due to some physical injury. Pneumonia is a common and curable disease but may be lethal if in case the individual has a lower immunity.

Antibiotics are the mode of treatment for respiratory disorders but only under the guidance of a Doctor. Self-medication is dangerous to health! Just to summarize, a deep breath refreshes every cell in our body and is also a kind of exercise that maintains the normal function of the lungs. Understanding the respiratory system is a useful piece of information for all of us because the pollution level is increasing at an alarming rate and the respiratory system is most prone to suffer from illnesses because of this problem. So protect the environment, control pollution and Happy Breathing!

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