Disorders such as bronchitis, emphysema, and asthma are all disorders caused by particles, gases or some sort of airborne irritant will cause damage to a part of the respiratory system and often leads to difficulty breathing.
Bronchitis occurs when pollution or a virus increases mucus secretions causing mucus to accumulate in the airways. There's usually a lot of coughing and difficulty breathing associated with bronchitis.
Emphysema is another type of disorder caused by irritants. The lungs will become inflamed due to these irritants, which leads to the lungs becoming inelastic. If the lungs are inelastic, they can't exchange gases as efficiently as they usually would.
Asthma is the last type of disorder we're going to discuss that is caused by an irritant. Bronchioles, the structures that connect the trachea to the lungs, will suddenly narrow, making it very difficult to breathe. Asthma can be triggered by various factors such as an infection, heavy exercise, stress, et cetera.
Some disorders of the respiratory system are caused by viruses or bacteria. Two such examples are pneumonia and tuberculosis (also known as TB).
Pneumonia occurs when a virus, bacteria, or fungi are inhaled and infects the lungs. It causes fluid buildup within the lungs. That fluid occupies space that air would usually fill, making it difficult to breathe.
Tuberculosis, or TB, is a lung infection caused by a bacterium that causes patches of lung tissue to be destroyed. If left untreated, it can be fatal because gases are not being exchanged properly, which is essential for the maintenance of cells and tissue. A vaccine against tuberculosis does exist, so in the United States, it's generally not a common or fatal issue.
Sleep apnea is another disorder of the respiratory system that occurs when sensors in the brain that detect oxygen and carbon dioxide levels don't properly function and breathing patterns are disrupted. When a person is sleeping, sometimes their breathing will temporarily stop. This can be dangerous and is most prevalent in elderly or obese people.
One factor that plays a huge role in degenerating the health of the respiratory system is smoking, which can cause various disorders of the respiratory system. Smoking can prevent cilia from beating properly. These cilia are tiny hair-like projections on the surface of lung cells; you can think of each cilium as handing off microbes and debris to the next cilium, from the lungs up to the airway and out of the body. If they can't beat, cilia can't move crud out of your lungs, so all of these unhealthy particles you breathe in (including irritants from smoke inhalation) settle in your lungs and cause damage.
Smoking can cause mucous secretions and kill phagocytes in the lining of the respiratory system. Phagocytes are important in maintaining respiratory health by cleaning debris from inhaled air.
Smoking can also increase the risk of lung and breast cancer, and can also lead to high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Smoking not only has an effect on the respiratory system, but it also has an effect on the body as a whole.
Source: THIS WORK IS ADAPTED FROM SOPHIA AUTHOR AMANDA SODERLIND