Pulmonary diseases are diseases that affect the organs of the respiratory tract, states World Health Organization. Pulmonary diseases may involve problems in the nasal airways, bronchi or lungs. Respiratory diseases include both acute infections and chronic disorders, ranging from pneumonia, influenza and bronchitis to emphysema, asthma and cystic fibrosis.
Cells require oxygen to perform their functions and thrive, explains MedlinePlus. Individuals with a respiratory disease have trouble breathing, which may result in low cellular oxygenation levels. Pulmonary diseases affect millions of Americans. As of March 2015, pulmonary diseases, when lumped together, are the third most common cause of death in the United States.
Common causes of pulmonary disease include genetics and smoking, states WebMD. They can also be caused by bacteria, fungi and viruses. Air pollution and exposure to harmful substances, such as radon and asbestos, can also contribute to the development of respiratory disease. Some types of pulmonary disease have unknown etiology, according to the Office on Women's Health.
Although symptoms vary by the type of disorder, the most common symptoms of pulmonary diseases are difficulty in breathing, shortness of breath, chronic coughing and chest pain, explains the Office on Women's Health. Prevention of pulmonary diseases involves lifestyle and dietary modifications. Smoking and exposure to harmful chemicals should be avoided. Several pulmonary diseases, such as influenza and pneumonia, can be prevented through vaccination.