Chronic Lung Disease

What is a chronic lung disease?

Chronic lung disease is a prolonged condition that causes individuals to have breathing issues. There are many lung diseases, out of which chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the most common lung disease observed. COPD is used as an umbrella term for many disease conditions, as given below

Different types of chronic lung diseases have been reported over decades, such as:

  • Emphysema: Damaged alveoli or air sacs in the lungs lead to shortness of breath.
  • Chronic bronchitis: Long-term coughing with mucus and shortness of breath
  • Refractory asthma: A nonreversible asthmatic condition that does not respond to asthma medication and requires specialized treatment.
  • Asthma: Swollen or narrowed lungs causing breathing issues.
  • Interstitial lung disease: Scared, inflamed and stiff lungs making lungs more rigid, leading to the inability to expand or contract lungs during breathing
  • Pulmonary hypertension is high blood pressure in the lungs which ultimately affects lung arteries and heart function
  • Cystic fibrosis is an inherited lung disease with thick, sticky and excessive mucous production, making breathing difficult.
  • Bronchiectasis: It is characterized by thickening and swollen bronchi mainly because of infection or lung injury
  • Chronic pneumonia

What are the symptoms observed with chronic lung diseases?

The general symptoms observed with chronic lung diseases are

  • Prolonged cough
  • Excessive mucous
  • Changing consistency and colour of mucous
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Blue fingernails
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Swollen ankles
  • Low on energy

Many lung diseases have overlapping signs and symptoms. Sometimes people with one condition acquire another condition too. In that case, treatment and medications for both need to be given.

What is the cause of chronic lung disease?

Decades of research have found specific causes that lead to the development of chronic lung diseases.

  • Long-term exposure to tobacco smoke
  • Second-hand smoking
  • Air pollution
  • Industrial dust and fume exposure
  • Smoking triggers inflammation and narrows the airways in the lungs
  • AAT deficiency: This is a rare condition where deficiency of a protective enzyme alpha-1 antitrypsin causes inflamed and damaged lungs

When to see a doctor for chronic lung disease?

Talk to your healthcare provider if your symptoms are not improving and are signs of infection with fever or a change in the colour and consistency of sputum (mucous). Also, do not self-medicate or stop taking medicines without talking to your doctor. Observing the symptoms and communicating them to your doctor, like shortness of breath, its occurrence and intensity, is essential.

  • Inability to walk usual distances
  • Need for pillows to sit on or during sleep because of breathing difficulty
  • Constant feeling of tiredness for making a maximum effort during breathing
  • Waking up short of breath more than once a night.
  • You need inhalers more than usual
  • Restlessness or irritability

Your doctor will conduct some specific tests, including

  • Spirometry
  • Chest x-rays
  • CT scan
  • Arterial blood gas test
  • Blood test for determining ATT deficiency

What are the risk factors and complications associated with chronic lung diseases?

Specific lifestyle characteristics put you at risk for lung diseases, such as

  • Smoking- Tobacco smokers, including pipe smokers, cigar and marijuana smokers, might be at risk
  • Second-hand smoking
  • Asthmatic patients
  • Occupational hazards include exposure to fumes, chemicals, dust and fines.
  • People living in the poorly ventilated home
  • Genetics (ATT-1 deficiency)

Chronic lung diseases progress at a different rate for every person. However, once the lungs are damaged, reversing them is difficult.  Complications associated with lung diseases are:

  • Respiratory infections
  • Heart problems
  • Lung cancer
  • High blood pressure in pulmonary arteries
  • Depression
  • Restricted physical activity

How can we prevent lung diseases?

The best thing to do is avoid smoking or long-term exposure to secondhand smoke. Also, avoid an environment with poor air quality, including dust, smoke, gases, fumes etc. Finally, exercise regularly, eat healthily, and check up with your health care provider.

What are the treatment options for chronic lung disease?

Any treatment plan for lung disease aims to slow the disease's progression and protect the lungs from further damage. For this, doctors prescribe various medications like

  • Bronchodilators
  • Corticosteroids
  • Inhalers
  • Antibiotics
  • Pneumonia or flu shots

In some severe cases, doctors also suggest surgery- bullectomy, lung volume reduction or lung transplant


Chronic lung diseases and their implication vary from person to person. It depends on how early your healthcare provider finds your condition and starts with treatment. Your doctor will teach you how to manage your symptoms to support your lung capacity.

Request an appointment at Apollo Cradle, Amritsar - Abadi Court Road. Call 1860-500-1066 to book an appointment.

1. What conditions are considered chronic lung diseases

Chronic lung disease includes the conditions of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, sleep-disordered breathing and interstitial lung disease

2. Can lung damage be reversed?

The lung is one of the organs exposed to all kinds of pathogens, toxins or irritants. However, lung damage can be healed with the body’s regenerative processes that restore its function. However, in severe cases of lung damage, reversal is not possible.

3. How can one know that their lungs are

There is no particular test. However, Chest X-rays determine the amount of fluid in different parts of the lung; based on that, damage can be identified.

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