Respiratory dysfunction, or respiratory disease, is a term that encompasses a variety of conditions that affect respiration in the human body. Respiration entails an exchange of gas which involves taking oxygen into the body and expelling carbon dioxide. Respiratory disorders occur within the respiratory tract, which includes the alveoli, bronchi, bronchioles, pleura, pleural cavity, trachea and the nerves and muscles that control breathing.
Respiratory disease encompasses three main types of disorders: Airway diseases, lung tissue diseases and lung circulation diseases. Airway diseases affect the tubes that carry oxygen and other gases into and out of the lungs. Airway diseases result from narrowing or blocking of the passageways. Lung tissue diseases affect the structure of lung tissue and result in scarring or inflammation of the lung tissue. Lung circulation diseases occur when the blood vessels in the lungs become clotted, inflamed or scarred. These diseases affect the ability of the lungs to receive oxygen and expel carbon dioxide, and may affect the functioning of the heart.