Lungs Disease - Symptoms, Diagnosis, Test

The lungs are part of the respiratory system, a group of organs and tissues that work together to help one breathe.


The lungs are part of the respiratory system, a group of organs and tissues that work together to help one breathe.
Each lung is divided into lobes. The bronchial tree running through the lungs is made up of the windpipe, bronchus, bronchi, bronchioles, and alveoli.

The main function of the lungs is the process of gas exchange called respiration. In respiration, oxygen from incoming air enters the blood and carbon dioxide, waste gas from the metabolism, leaves the blood.

  • Filtering waste products, excess water, and other impurities out of the blood.
  • Regulating pH, salt, and potassium levels in the body.
  • Regulating blood pressure and the production of red blood cells.
  • Activating a form of vitamin D that enhances calcium absorption.

Symptoms of Lung Diseasae

The following symptoms are early warning signs of developing Lungs disease:

Chronic cough

Shortness of breath


Chronic mucus production

Chronic mucus production

Coughing up blood

  • Chronic cough that lasts longer
  • Shortness of breath after little or no exertion
  • Wheezing or noisy breathing
  • Chronic mucus production that lasts longer. Mucus is produced by the airways as a defense against infections.
  • Chronic chest pain that lasts longer
  • Coughing up blood

What are the main causes?

The major risk factors for Lungs disease are:

Smoking Tobacco

Second Hand Smoke

Radon Gas

Air Pollution



  • Smoking Tobacco
    It is the biggest cause of lung-related complaints.
  • Second Hand smoke
    It is especially bad for babies and young children.
  • Radon Gas
    It is a recognized cause of lung cancer.
  • Air pollution
    It may contribute to asthma, COPD, lung cancer, and other lung diseases.
  • Chemicals
    It can cause substantial damage to the lungs.
  • Allergies
    Such as pollen, pet dander, insect waste, food allergens

Types of Common Lung Disease

A respiratory disorder may be temporary or chronic. Common lung conditions include:

Tuberculosis (TB)


Influenza (Flu)


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)

Lung Cancer

Pulmonary Hypertension

Cystic fibrosis

Pulmonary Fibrosis

  • Tuberculosis (TB)
    • Tuberculosis (TB) is an airborne bacterial infection caused by the organism Mycobacterium tuberculosis that primarily affects the lungs, although other organs and tissues may be involved. It is most commonly seen in people with weakened immune systems.
    • TB is spread when a person with active, infectious TB disease coughs, sneezes, or spits, releasing droplets containing TB bacteria into the air, which are then inhaled by someone else. There are also forms of TB that are drug-resistant.
  • Pneumonia
    • Pneumonia is a common lung infection caused by germs, such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi. The infection causes the lung’s air sacs to become inflamed and fill up with fluid or pus making it hard for the oxygen to get into the bloodstream. The symptoms of pneumonia can range from mild to severe and include cough, fever, chills, and trouble breathing. Infants and Young children, adults 65 or older, smokers, and people who are ill are at higher risk.
  • Pneumonia
    • The flu is a respiratory infection caused by flu viruses. The viruses pass through the air and enter the body through the nose or mouth. The flu can also be acquired from contaminated surfaces. Symptoms of the flu are similar to those of the common cold, but they last longer and tend to be worse.

    The different types of influenza virus families are:

    Influenza Type A: There are different strains of influenza type A viruses, two of which circulate among humans, H1N1 and H3N2.
    Influenza Type B: It can cause illness among humans but are associated with less severe infection than influenza A viruses.
    Influenza Type C: It causes mild illness in humans and cases occur much less frequently than A and B.
    Avian flu (H5N1): Also known as bird flu, is a subtype of influenza type A viruses. The virus is mainly transmitted to humans by direct contact with infected live, sick or dead poultry.

  • Asthma
    • Asthma is the most common chronic lung condition. Asthma attacks happen when the airways tighten and narrow, slowing down airflow. The lungs also become swollen and inflamed. Asthma can be triggered by an allergic reaction, pollution, exercise, other respiratory illness, and cold air. The symptoms of Asthma often present in periodic attacks or episodes of tightness in the chest, wheezing, breathlessness, and coughing.
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

    COPD is an umbrella term used to describe progressive lung diseases including Chronic bronchitis, Emphysema, Refractory (non-reversible) Asthma. This disease is characterized by increasing breathlessness. The bronchial tubes become inflamed and scarred in Chronic bronchitis whereas the air sacs in the lungs are slowly destroyed in the case of Emphysema. It may be caused by smoking, air pollution, chemicals, or a genetic condition.

  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)

    ARDS is a condition that causes fluid to leak into the lungs, blocking oxygen from getting to the organs. It occurs when there is trauma to the lungs e.g. sepsis, severe pneumonia. It is a serious condition and can be life-threatening.

  • Lung Cancer

    Lung Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of malignant cells that originate in the lungs.

    The two general types of lung cancer include:

    • Small cell lung cancer: It occurs almost exclusively in heavy smokers and is less common than non-small cell lung cancer.
    • Non-small cell lung cancer: It is an umbrella term for several types of lung cancers that behave similarly. Non-small cell lung cancers include squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma and large cell carcinoma.
  • Pulmonary Hypertension

    Pulmonary hypertension occurs when there is abnormally high pressure in the blood vessels between the lungs and the heart. Pulmonary hypertension can be acquired as a result of other medical conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, or connective tissue disease. If no cause can be identified, the condition is called idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension.

  • Pulmonary Embolism

    This condition occurs when a blood clot gets caught in one of the arteries that go from the heart to the lungs and blocks the normal blood flow causing chest pain, acute shortness of breath, and coughing. It can be life-threatening and requires prompt medical attention.

  • Cystic fibrosis

    Cystic fibrosis is an inherited and life threatening disease that causes thickened mucus to form in the lungs, pancreas and other organs. In the lungs, this mucus blocks the airways, causing lung damage and making it hard to breathe.

  • Pulmonary Fibrosis

    Pulmonary fibrosis is a lung disease characterized by damage and scarring to the tissues of the lungs, including those between and supporting the air sacs. Causes of Pulmonary Fibrosis can be

    • Inhaling hazardous chemicals
    • Chemicals and drugs that are toxic to the lungs
    • Previous Radiation Treatment
    • Certain medical conditions e.g. Sarcoidosis, Scleroderma
    • Unknown (Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis)

How is Lung disease diagnosed?

There are various tests used to diagnose various lung diseases.

  • Chest X-Ray
    It is used by doctors to check lung structure and chest cavity. An X-ray will show areas of the lung that are clogged up or scarred.
  • CT Scan
    CT Scan provides a more detailed evaluation of lung structure.
  • Chest Ultrasound: Chest Ultrasound is used to detect any fluid buildup in or around the lungs. It uses high frequency sound waves to provide a detailed image of the lungs.
  • Blood Gas Analysis, Arterial
    This test is used to evaluate lung function by measuring blood pH, Oxygen, Carbon Dioxide.
  • Complete Blood Count (CBC)
    CBC is a series of tests that measure red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.
  • Immunoglobulin IgE
    It is used to establish the diagnosis of an allergy and to define the allergens responsible for eliciting signs and symptoms. It may be ordered to determine asthma triggers.
  • Mantoux Test; Tuberculin Skin Test
    This test is used to screen for tuberculosis (TB) active or latent infection. A positive test result means that the person is likely to have been exposed to TB and the person may have a latent or active TB infection.
  • Interferon Gamma Release Assay (IGRA)
    This test is used to screen for tuberculosis (TB) active or latent infection. It measures how strongly a person's immune system reacts to specific TB antigens.

  • Spirometry
    This test measures the airflow into the lungs. It is used to evaluate narrowed or obstructed airways.
  • Oximetry
    This test measures the oxygen levels in the blood. The purpose of pulse oximetry is to check how well the heart is pumping oxygen through the body.
  • Sputum Culture
    Sputum Culture is used to detect and diagnose bacterial lower respiratory tract infections such as Pneumonia, Bronchitis.

Tips for healthy lungs

EFollowing measures can be taken to prevent Lungs disease:

Quit Smoking

Avoid secondhand smoke

Minimize exposure to outdoor air pollution

Improve Indoor Air

Get regular aerobic exercise

See a doctor regularly

Maintain good oral hygiene

Get vaccinated against the flu and pneumonia

  • Don’t chew tobacco
  • Don’t smoke and avoid secondhand smoke
  • Minimize exposure to outdoor air pollution
  • Avoid exposure to indoor pollutants
  • Get regular aerobic exercise
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water
  • See a doctor regularly to get health checkups
  • Maintain good oral hygiene
  • Get vaccinated against the flu and pneumonia