Diseases of respiratory insufficiency
When breathing is impaired, your lungs can’t easily move oxygen into your blood and remove carbon dioxide from your blood (gas exchange). This can cause a low oxygen level or high carbon dioxide level, or both, in your blood.
Respiratory insufficiency refers to conditions that reduce your body’s ability to perform gas exchange, including:
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): a progressive lung disease that includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Asthma and rare genetic conditions, such as cystic fibrosis, can also lead to COPD.
- Interstitial Lung Disease: represents a large group of conditions that scar the alveoli (the air sacs in your lungs) and decrease your lungs’ ability to perform gas exchange
- Neuromuscular Disease: refers to conditions that affect the nerves and muscles that control breathing. Examples include amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), often called Lou Gehrig’s disease; muscular dystrophies; and myasthenia gravis. As these conditions progress, loss of nerve function can lead to difficulty in breathing and respiratory insufficiency
- Restrictive Lung Disease: refers to conditions where lung volumes are limited, reducing the lungs’ ability to fully fill with air
COPD is a major cause of disability and the third leading cause of death in the United States.1
Symptoms of COPD
Common signs and symptoms of COPD include:
- An ongoing cough or a cough that produces a lot of mucus
- Shortness of breath, especially with minimal physical activity
- Wheezing (a whistling or squeaky sound when you breathe)
- Chest tightness
COPD develops slowly. As the disease becomes worse, symptoms usually become more severe and can limit your ability to do routine activities. Severe COPD may prevent you from doing even basic activities like walking, cooking, or taking care of yourself.
COPD Population Screener may help you determine if you are at risk for developing COPD