Respiratory Medicine

Respiratory Disease is the term for diseases of the respiratory system. These include diseases of the lung, pleural cavity, bronchial tubes, trachea, upper respiratory tract and of the nerves and muscles of breathing. Respiratory diseases range from mild and self-limiting such as the common cold to life-threatening such as bacterial pneumonia or pulmonary embolism. They are a common and important cause of illness and death. In the US, people suffer 1 billion colds per year. One in seven people in the UK are affected by some form of chronic lung disease, most commonly chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma. Respiratory disease is responsible for over 10% of hospitalizations and over 16% of deaths in Canada. 

The symptoms of respiratory disease differ depending on the disease. Common symptoms are:

  • General malaise
  • Shortness of breath or dyspnea which usually occurs with exercise and can interfere with daily activities. In severe cases, shortness of breath can occur while resting.
  • Cough with or without the production of sputum.
  • Coughing blood (haemoptysis).It is very painful.
  • Chest pain. This may or may not be pleuritic chest pain (that is pain that worsens with the movements of breathing).
  • Noisy breathing, either wheeze or stridor.
  • Somnolence.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Weight loss.
  • Cachexia
  • Cyanosis, a bluish discoloration of the lips, tongue or fingers.

In some cases respiratory disease is diagnosed without symptoms in the investigation of another disease or through a routine check.


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