Types of Lung Diseases & Their Cause

Lung Diseases

Lung diseases are one of the most common medical conditions known to humankind. There are tens of millions of people who have lung disease in the United States alone. Most lung diseases are caused by infections, smoking or genes.

The lungs are part of a complex system, expanding and contracting thousands of times every day to breathe in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide. Lung disease occurs when there are issues in any part of this system.

Lung Diseases That Affect the Airways

The trachea or windpipe branches into tubes known as bronchi, which become smaller tubes called bronchioles that extend throughout the lungs. Diseases which affect the airways include:


The airways are always inflamed and can spasm, which causes wheezing as well as shortness of breath. Infections, pollution and allergies are known to trigger asthma symptoms.


Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

This lung condition makes the patient incapable of exhaling the way they usually would, which causes trouble breathing.

Chronic Bronchitis

This is a form of COPD that causes a long-term wet cough.


Lung damage causes air to get trapped in the lungs in this form of COPD. The primary hallmark of this disease is that the patient will find it difficult to blow air out.

Acute Bronchitis

A virus causes sudden infection of the airways.


Cystic fibrosis

The patient will have trouble clearing mucus out of their bronchi which can lead to repeated lung infections.

 Lung Diseases Affecting the Alveoli

The airways or bronchi branch into smaller tubes known as bronchioles that end in clusters of air sacs known as alveoli. Most of the lung tissue is made up of alveoli.


It is caused by an infection of the alveoli, which is caused by bacteria or viruses, including the coronavirus which causes COVID-19.


The bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis causes a progressively worsening case of pneumonia leading to tuberculosis.


This occurs when the delicate links between the millions of alveoli are damaged. One of the most common causes of emphysema is smoking. Emphysema also causes obstruction to airflow, thereby affecting the airways as well.

Pulmonary Edema

Fluid leaks from the small blood vessels inside the lung into the air sacs and their area. One form is caused by backpressure in the blood vessels of the lungs and heart failure. In another form, injury to the lung can cause a leak of fluid.

Lung Cancer

There are several forms of lung cancer and may appear in any part of the lungs. However, it most often occurs in the central part of the lung, in or near the air sacs.

Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS)

ARDS is a sudden severe injury to the lungs caused by a severe illness. One such example would be COVID-19. People who have ARDS require artificial breathing from a machine known as a ventilator until the lungs fully recover.


Pneumoconiosis is a category of conditions which are caused by the inhalation of something that injures the lungs. Examples include asbestosis from asbestos dust and black lung disease from coal dust.

Types of Lung Diseases & Their Cause

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