The most common progressive respiratory disease is the Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), which is a name that is also used to refer to a collection of lung diseases ("Introduction," 2012). The other common chronic lung diseases include emphysema, chronic bronchitis, chest wall disease, interstitial lung disease, chronic asthma, and obstructive airways disease. These chronic lung diseases usually involve a combination of three major factors i.e. airway diseases, lung circulation diseases, and lung tissue diseases. As the name suggests, the airway diseases affect the airways or tubes that transport oxygen and other gases to and from the lungs. In contrast, the lung tissues diseases affect the lung tissue structure through inflammation or scarring of the tissue. Lung circulation diseases affect the blood vessels in the lungs through scarring, clotting, or inflammation of these vessels. As a result, these diseases contribute to difficulties of the lungs to receive oxygen and release carbon dioxide. The severity of chronic lung diseases is basically dependent on the combination of these three conditions. However, most of the chronic lung diseases are attributed to the narrowing or blockage of the airways. For instance, emphysema, COPD, and chronic bronchitis are conditions that inhibit the ability of the tubes or airways to carry oxygen and other gases to and from the lungs. Generally, patients with chronic lung diseases such as COPD always have difficulties breathing because of airflow obstruction or narrowing of the airways.
As previously mentioned, these diseases account for a huge number of hospital emergency room visits and hospitalizations, although they are largely preventable. Despite being preventable, these diseases have become some of the major causes of death and key factors in the ever-increasing huge human and economic burden because of the tendency of patients to ignore their symptoms ('Emergency Department Support Fund Application," n.d). The major symptoms of these diseases include rising breathlessness, frequent chest infections, and constant cough with phlegm ("Introduction," 2012). The tendency to ignore these symptoms contributes to the many incidents of recidivism to acute care facilities.
The main cause of chronic lung diseases, especially chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is smoking. An individual enhances the risk of developing these diseases when he/she smokes more and for long periods of time. Smoking results in scarring that increases the risk of chronic lung diseases, through irritating or inflaming the lungs. The inflammation in turn results in permanent lung changes over many years. During this period, the walls of the tubes or airways thicken as more mucus is generated. In addition to making the lungs lose their normal elasticity, the damage or harm to the delicate walls of the air sacs in the lungs results in the development of emphysema. Moreover, the smaller airways or tubes become narrowed or scarred. The combination of these permanent changes to the lungs contributes to symptoms of cough, breathlessness, and phlegm linked to chronic obstructive pulmonary
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