Obstructive Lung Diseases

Last Updated: April 21, 2019

Definition - What does Obstructive Lung Diseases mean?

Obstructive lung diseases are a group of pulmonary conditions characterized by blockage or narrowing of the alveoli, the small air sacs in the lungs, responsible for the gaseous exchange between oxygen uptake and carbon dioxide expulsion. Chronic obstructive lung diseases can lead to a wide range of debilitating symptoms including shortness of breath, coughing fits, fatigue, chest pains, and sleep apnea. Individuals suffering from an obstructive lung disease often find exercise difficult since their ability to inhale fresh air is limited by residual air being exhaled from previous breaths.

WorkplaceTesting explains Obstructive Lung Diseases

Although there is no current cure for obstructive lung diseases, alternative interventions are available to mitigate breathing difficulties. For instance, physicians may prescribe bronchodilators, inhalers, and oxygen therapy treatment to regulate the influx (breathing in) and efflux (breathing out) of air improving respiration cycle. Several factors lend to the development and progression of obstructive lung diseases, compounded by environmental conditions and detrimental habits including airborne contaminants (i.e. dust, fumes, vapors) and smoking.

The workplace carries significant epidemiological ramifications for employees surrounded by frequent dust exposure, chemical waste by-products, and other harmful agents from industrial production. Certain occupational trades such as coal mining, construction, and factory plant jobs predispose workers to malignant conditions which require doctor visits to identify, diagnose, and monitor treatment. Because each case varies in severity, physicians conduct testing methods to examine the bronchioles, or the airway passages, to determine the pathological status.

While medical treatment is useful, many individuals encounter declining health as symptoms become more pronounced, leading to other serious health disorders including asthma, congenital heart failure, and stroke. The health effects of chronic obstructive lung diseases can place significant constraints on pulmonary function making casual activities such as walking and ascending stairs difficult.

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