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About Respiratory Diseases and Conditions

Lung diseases are conditions that occur within the lungs. Respiratory or lung diseases treated at Atrium Medical Center include asthma, pneumonia, tuberculosis, lung cancer, and many others. According to the American Lung Association:

  • Every year nearly 335,000 Americans die of lung disease.
  • Lung disease is the no. 3 killer in America, responsible for one in seven deaths.
  • Lung disease and other breathing problems are the no. 1 killer of babies younger than 1 year old.
  • More than 30 million Americans are living with a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease such as asthma, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis.


Asthma can be a life-threatening disease if not properly managed. Asthma is a chronic disease of the airways that makes breathing difficult. With asthma, there is inflammation of the air passages that results in a temporary narrowing of the airways that carry oxygen to the lungs. This results in asthma symptoms, including coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

COPD is a group of diseases characterized by the pathological limitation of airflow in the airway that is not fully reversible. COPD is the umbrella term for asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and a range of other lung disorders.

  • Pneumonia is a general term that refers to an infection of the lungs, which can be caused by a variety of microorganisms, including viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites.
  • Emphysema is a chronic disease of the lungs associated with breathlessness, chronic cough, excessive sputum, and progressive loss of lung function. It is a condition in which the walls between the alveoli or air sacs within the lung lose their ability to stretch and recoil. The air sacs become weak, resulting in inefficient and difficult breathing.
  • Chronic bronchitis is an inflammation of the main airways in the lungs that continues for a long period or keeps coming back. As the irritated membrane swells and grows thicker, it narrows or shuts off the tiny airways in the lungs, resulting in coughing spells accompanied by thick phlegm and breathlessness. Cigarette smoking is the main cause of chronic bronchitis.