Respiratory Diseases: Causes, Symptoms, & Preventive Measures

Tuesday, June 15th, 2021, 9:55 am

Respiratory DiseasesThe respiratory system is essential to your ability to breathe. By enabling your body to absorb oxygen from the air, the respiratory system supports healthy organ function. Unfortunately, there are many diseases that can impact the respiratory system and affect your overall health. Here, we’ll discuss the most common respiratory diseases, as well as how to prevent them. 

Infectious Respiratory Diseases

While some respiratory diseases are chronic, others are infectious. This means that the conditions are transmitted to people from other individuals or organisms. While infectious respiratory diseases are generally temporary, though some cases may escalate, eventually becoming chronic. Pneumonia, tuberculosis, and the recent COVID-19 virus are all respiratory diseases. 

Obstructive vs. Restrictive Respiratory Diseases

Chronic respiratory diseases can be categorized as either obstructive or restrictive. 


A respiratory disease is considered obstructive when it leads to narrow or blocked airways. This inhibits the ability of the lungs to exhale. Asthma is a very common obstructive respiratory that leads to inflamed airways, usually caused by triggers like stress, pollen, chemical fumes, and other allergens. Other examples of obstructive respiratory diseases include cystic fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), bronchiectasis, and alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency. 


Respiratory diseases are categorized as restrictive when lung capacity is reduced. This occurs when the lungs are no longer able to expand to their full capacity. Examples of restrictive respiratory diseases include pulmonary fibrosis, lung cancer, and sarcoidosis. 

Symptoms of Respiratory Diseases

While symptoms can differ between types of respiratory diseases, the most common symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath, during and after with physical activity
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Hoarseness
  • Shallow breathing
  • Persistent fatigue


The main causes of respiratory diseases include:

  • Smoking
  • Autoimmune conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis
  • Genetic factors
  • Environmental conditions (i.e. pollution)

Prevention of Respiratory Disease

To preserve the health of your respiratory system, follow these preventative measures:

  • Steer clear of smoking. 
  • Avoid infection with hand washing, vaccination for infectious diseases, and other protective measures.
  • Reduce your exposure to allergens and pollution.
  • Visit your doctor regularly for check-ups. 

At Suncoast Urgent Care, we provide medical care for respiratory complaints. Contact us today to learn more. 

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Category: Infections

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