Common respiratory ailments in the elderly include asthma, pneumonia, pulmonary embolism, tuberculosis, and ailments caused by environmental factors, such as tobacco smoke and asbestos, according to Clinics in Geriatric Medicine. MedlinePlus notes that other lung maladies, such as bronchitis, low oxygen levels, sleep apnea and shortness of breath, are common problems in the elderly. Mortality due to lung infections increases with age due to weakened immune systems.
Preventing lung diseases and lung infections is one concern for doctors. Smoking cessation is one practical way to avoid lung ailments in elderly patients, states Clinics in Geriatric Medicine. Earlier recognition of lung diseases that lead to respiratory failure gives patients and families time to plan ahead for end-of-life decisions.
MedlinePlus lists a few tips for preventing lung diseases in the elderly. Physical activity, walking around the house and not smoking are three ways patients can improve lung function. Sitting or lying for long periods causes mucous to accumulate in the lungs. More mucous puts patients at higher risk for lung infections.
MedicineNet lists chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, as a common lung ailment among the elderly. This problem occurs due to years of smoking and is diagnosed in people over the age of 50. Secondhand smoke also causes COPD.