Causes of obstructive and restrictive lung disease
In general, obstructive lung diseases make it hard for a person to expel all the air from their lungs. People with restrictive lung diseases, on the other hand, have trouble fully filling their lungs with air.
Obstructive lung disease occurs when the airways become inflamed and swell up, causing it to narrow significantly. When the airways shrink, exhalation slows down, which leaves an unusual volume of air in the lungs. The increase in breathing rate during exertion barely gives the lungs enough time to expel air. That is why, during strenuous activities, people with an obstructive lung disease find it more difficult to breathe.
Meanwhile, restrictive lung disease are disorders that can reduce lung volume. This can be attributed to the weakening of the muscles, nerve damage, or secondary inflammation of lung tissues from conditions like interstitial lung diseases (ILD). A person with a restrictive lung disease finds it hard to fully expand their lungs when breathing in. Also, restrictive lung disease is linked to a decrease in lung capacity.
Lung conditions characterized as obstructive or restrictive
Some of the lung diseases that are classified as obstructive are:
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This refers to a cluster of lung conditions that result in breathing difficulties. Emphysema and chronic bronchitis fall under COPD.
- Asthma. This causes chronic inflammation of the airways.
- Bronchiectasis. Marked by an abnormal widening of the lungs, bronchiectasis leads to mucus build-up. This makes the lungs more vulnerable to infections.
- Bronchiolitis. This usually occurs due to a virus that causes inflammation and congestion in the bronchioles. This lung infection is prevalent in infants and young children.
- Cystic fibrosis (CF). This is a hereditary, chronic, and potentially life-threatening condition that affects a person’s respiratory and digestive systems. CF affects the secretion of bodily fluid by making them thick and sticky, thus blocking passageways in the lungs and pancreas.
Lung conditions classified as restrictive are: