Some Common Respiratory Disorders
Hypoxia is a condition of oxygen shortage in the body. This condition can be caused by a variety of reasons. Hypoxia could be due to lack of oxygen in the inspired air. This type of hypoxia is known as arterial hypoxia. The mountain sickness which occurs while climbing to high altitudes without the aid of oxygen cylinders is due to arterial hypoxia. The person suffering from mountain sickness experiences breathlessness and headache. The skin and mucous membranes acquire a bluish colour and moderate to severe nervous symptoms may also be seen.
Anaemia literally means 'no blood'. The word is applied to any condition in which the red blood cell count is significantly reduced. In females RBC count below 4 million/mm3 and in males a count below 4.5 million/mm3 causes anaemia. This condition can occur due to a variety of reasons. Any condition in which the rate of destruction of RBC's is excessive and greater than the ability of the bone marrow to cope with, results in anaemia. In case of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning, some of the haemoglobin gets irreversibly bound up with CO. The carbon monoxide has a higher affinity for haemoglobin than for oxygen. The result is the reduction of the amount of haemoglobin available for carrying oxygen in the blood. This in turn results in a case of hypoxia called anaemia hypoxia which is due to the reduced oxygen carrying capacity of the blood.
Hypoxia may also result when the capacity of the tissues to use oxygen supplied to them is lost. This type of hypoxia is produced by cyanide poisoning. Cyanides, by blocking the electron transport chain in tissue cells, reduce the capacity of the tissue to utilize oxygen.
Excess of CO2 accumulates when a person is suffocated. The simultaneous lack of oxygen and the increased CO2 together cause asphyxia. This condition is the cause of respiratory and circulatory failures and death in case of suffocation.
Some bacterial infections cause lymph and mucus to accumulate in the alveoli and bronchioles. Pneumonia is a disease caused by a virus or bacteria and seriously affects breathing. Failure to provide proper medical attention in case of the disease may prove fatal.
Reduction in the gas exchange area of the lungs due to breaking up of the separating walls of the alveoli is called emphysema.
Tuberculosis is a disease of the lungs caused by the bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacterium can spread and cause infection in another person through the sputum of the infected person. The mucus expelled from the trachea via the mouth is called the sputum. It contains the trapped dust particles which were not filtered through the nose. Vaccination in the form of treatment is usually followed for the disease. BCG (Bacille Calmette Guerin) vaccine effectively controls tuberculosis.
An irritation of the mucous membrane of the larynx, pharynx or bronchi by particles of dust, food, smoke or inflammation of these parts due to infection usually leads to what is known as cough. It is a response by which the irritants are expelled from the respiratory tract along with air. The forceful passage of the air through the vocal cords in the larynx produces the characteristic sound of coughing. Heavy smoking is known to produce not only persistent coughing but has been proved to be a major cause for lung cancer.
- Influenza or Flu
Fever, pain all over the body along with discharge through the nose are usually symptoms of influenza or flu, which is caused by a viral infection of the mucous membrane of nose, throat and respiratory tract.
It is caused by the inflammation of the pleural membranes covering the lungs by the accumulation of the pleural fluid.