The Chronic Lung Disorders play a critical role in the body, extracting oxygen from inhaled air for distribution via the bloodstream to every cell in the body. Conversely, during exhalation the lungs expel waste — carbon dioxide produced when cells use oxygen.
When lungs become diseased, they no longer can maintain the necessary exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. Respiratory diseases are major contributors to mortality, disability, and medical cost.
A number of diseases and conditions can cause lungs to become so dysfunctional that one or both of them may need to be replaced through transplantation. These can include:
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
COPD is an umbrella term used to describe progressive lung diseases including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, refractory (non-reversible) asthma, and some forms of bronchiectasis. This disease is characterized by increasing breathlessness.
Causes: Most cases of COPD are caused by inhaling pollutants; that includes smoking (cigarettes, pipes, cigars, etc.), and second-hand smoke. Fumes, chemicals, and dust found in many work environments are contributing factors for many individuals who develop COPD. Genetics can also play a role in an individual’s development of COPD—even if the person has never smoked or has ever been exposed to strong lung irritants in the workplace.
- Pulmonary Fibrosis
Pulmonary fibrosis occurs when lung tissue becomes damaged and scarred. This thickened, stiff tissue makes it more difficult for lungs to work properly. As pulmonary fibrosis worsens, a person becomes progressively short of breath.
Causes: The list of substances and conditions that can lead to pulmonary fibrosis is long. Even so, in most cases, the cause is never found. Pulmonary fibrosis with no known cause is called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
Long-term exposure to a number of toxins and pollutants can damage your lungs. Some people who receive radiation therapy for lung or breast cancer show signs of lung damage months or sometimes years after the initial treatment.
- Cystic Fibrosis
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a life-limiting inherited condition caused by a faulty gene that controls the movement of salt and water in and out of cells. This causes mucus to gather in the lungs and digestive system and creates a range of challenging symptoms.
Causes: A defect in the CFTR gene causes cystic fibrosis (CF). This gene makes a protein that controls the movement of salt and water in and out of your body’s cells. In people who have CF, the gene makes a protein that doesn’t work well. This causes thick, sticky mucus and very salty sweat.
Every person inherits two CFTR genes—one from each parent. Children who inherit a faulty CFTR gene from each parent will have CF. Children who inherit one faulty CFTR gene and one normal CFTR gene are “CF carriers.” CF carriers usually have no symptoms of CF and live normal lives. However, they can pass the faulty CFTR gene to their children.