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Disorders of the Respiratory System: Mountain sickness, Rhinitis, Flu, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, Bronchial Asthma, Pulmonary Tuberculosis, Pneumonia, Occupational Respiratory Disorders, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, Pertussis, Carbon mon

Disorders of the Respiratory System: Mountain sickness, Rhinitis, Flu, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, Bronchial Asthma, Pulmonary Tuberculosis, Pneumonia, Occupational Respiratory Disorders, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, Pertussis, Carbon mon

We live in a society where people who live along with us will have different types of habits. Some of these habits we like and some we may not like. For example, in your locality, area or apartment you might have seen some people who smoke regularly. What do you think about smoking, is it good for health? Does smoking keep our respiratory system and society healthy?

image

GIF: Cigarette smoking

No, is that your answer? Then you are correct. Smoking can cause various diseases like cancer, stroke, lung diseases, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic bronchitis and heart diseases. It can damage lungs. It can make non-smokers like us into passive smokers. 

You know air pollution is also becoming an alarming cause of respiratory disorders these days. But can you tell me how it happens? This is because polluted air contains various types of chemicals and toxins that get accumulated in our respiratory system and cause serious side effects. 

Fig: Air pollution in a city

Fig: Air pollution in a city

The pollution can cause short term as well as long term effects on our body. Short term effects include nausea, headache and bronchitis. On the other hand, the long term effects include lung cancer, liver damage and kidney problems that can ultimately lead to the damage of the brain. Let’s understand about various disorders of the respiratory system in depth in this article. 

Table of contents

  • Respiratory disorders
  • Mountain sickness
  • Rhinitis
  • Flu
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Bronchial asthma
  • Pulmonary tuberculosis
  • Pneumonia
  • Occupational respiratory disorders
  • Severe acute respiratory syndrome
  • Pertussis or whooping cough
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Bronchogenic carcinoma
  • Practice problems
  • FAQs

Respiratory disorders

These are a type of disease that commonly affects the lungs and other parts associated with the respiratory system. 

Common causes of respiratory disorders

Respiratory disorders can be caused mainly by the following factors:

  • It can be caused by infectious agents such as bacteria, fungi or viruses. Examples of diseases include pneumonia, COVID etc. 

  • It can also be caused by smoking. Examples include cigarettes.

  • It can also be caused by breathing in air pollutants like asbestos, toxic chemicals etc.

  • Cancer can be caused by predisposing genetic history.

Common respiratory disorders

The following are some of the common respiratory disorders:

  • Mountain sickness
  • Rhinitis
  • Flu
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Bronchial asthma
  • Pulmonary tuberculosis
  • Pneumonia
  • Occupational respiratory disorders
  • Severe acute respiratory syndrome
  • Pertussis or whooping cough
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Bronchogenic carcinoma

Mountain sickness

A person living in plains when shifted to mountains above 8000 feet, he develops some symptoms related to shortage of oxygen within 8 - 24 hours. These symptoms are collectively called mountain sickness. It is caused mainly due to hypoxia at higher altitudes. Hypoxia means a shortage of oxygen.

Reason for mountain sickness

The air pressure is getting reduced with the rise in altitude. The pO2 also falls proportionally in the atmospheric air at higher altitudes. This lowers the alveolar pO2 and reduces diffusion of oxygen from the alveolar air to the blood. This decreases the level of oxygenated blood in the body. This fall in oxygenated blood leads to the symptoms of mountain sickness. The faster a person climbs to a high altitude, the more prone that person to mountain sickness. For example, people develop mountain sickness at Rohtang Pass. It is a high mountain pass present on the eastern end of the Pir Panjal Range of the Himalaya. It is around 51 km from Manali in the state of Himachal Pradesh.

Common symptoms of mountain sickness

The symptoms of mountain sickness include vomiting, breathlessness, headache, disorientation, irritability, and fatigue. To overcome this problem, mountaineers take oxygen cylinders with them. 

image

Fig: Mountain sickness

Prevention and cure for mountain sickness

The following measures can be taken: 

  • Stop climbing for some time and take a rest once you develop symptoms of mountain sickness.
  • Do not climb high altitude for at least 24 to 48 hours once the symptoms are developed.
  • Take medicines for headaches.
  • Acetazolamide can be used to prevent and reduce the symptoms of altitude sickness.
  • Drink enough water.
  • Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol.
  • Do not follow any hard exercises.

Rhinitis 

It is the inflammation of the nose and respiratory tract. It will not affect lungs. Droplets resulting from the coughs or sneezes of an infected person are inhaled directly or transmitted through contaminated objects such as books, cups, pens etc.,to a healthy person in the case of this infection. 

Fig: Rhinitis

Fig: Rhinitis

Causes of rhinitis

Rhinitis is of different types. Viral rhinitis and allergic rhinitis are the most common ones. 

Viral rhinitis

It is normally caused by rhinoviruses. 

image

Fig: Rhinovirus

Allergic rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis or hay fever is caused by the common allergens or foreign substances like house dust, fungal spores, pollen grains etc. 

image

Fig: Allergic rhinitis

Common symptoms of rhinitis

The following are the common symptoms of rhinitis:

  • Nasal congestion and discharge.
  • Sore throat
  • Hoarseness
  • Cough
  • Headache
  • Tiredness
  • It usually lasts for 3 - 7 days. 

Fig: Common symptoms of rhinitis

Fig: Common symptoms of rhinitis

Prevention and cure for rhinitis

The common cold virus cannot be treated with any antibiotics, and the infection usually is mild and subsides itself within 3-7 days. But the following measures can be taken for relief:

Prevention and cure for allergic rhinitis

  • The effects of the allergic rhinitis condition can be reduced with the use of nasal sprays and antihistamine medications. 
  • Immunotherapy can give long-term relief. 
  • Avoid contact with allergens.
  • Wear masks.
  • Use goggles to prevent the entry of foreign substances into the eyes. 

Prevention and cure for viral rhinitis

  • Use saline nasal sprays or homemade saltwater solution to flush out the irritants from the nose. It also helps in thinning the mucus.
  • Antihistamine nasal sprays can also be used for relief. 
  • Use decongestants.

Fig: Common preventive measures for rhinitis

Fig: Common preventive measures for rhinitis

Flu 

It is a common viral disease affecting the nose, throat, and lungs. Flu is also known as influenza. The majority of individuals who acquire the flu recover in a few days to less than two weeks, but some people may experience complications (like pneumonia) as a result of the flu, which can be fatal.

Common symptoms of flu

The flu causes mild to severe symptoms that are listed below:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tiredness and weakness
  • Eye pain
  • Vomiting and diarrhoea

Fig: Common symptoms of flu

Fig: Common symptoms of flu

Causes of Flu

Flu is a highly contagious disease which is caused by the influenza virus. The virus travels through the air in the form of droplets when the affected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. A healthy person inhales the droplets from objects and becomes ill. These droplets then move to the eyes, nose, and mouth. 

Fig: Influenza virus

Fig: Influenza virus

Preventive measures for flu

The flu is not a serious disease but it is very unpleasant. Some of the preventive measures can be adapted and are listed below:

  • Getting vaccinated for the flu each year is the greatest method to prevent the illness. There are two types of vaccinations: 
    • The flu shot
    • The nasal spray flu vaccine

The flu shot

A flu shot contains the vaccine for various types of influenza virus, such as influenza A virus (H1N1), influenza virus (H3N2), and influenza B viruses. The flu shot is required every year because the viruses adapt and change over time.

The nasal spray flu vaccine

Live or weakened flu viruses that are not contagious are included in the nasal spray vaccine.

Treatment for flu

The following measures can be taken:

  • Take proper rest.
  • Take plenty of fluids.
  • Antiviral drugs can be taken in case of severe infections.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

It is a group of lung diseases that reduces airflow and makes it strenuous to breathe. COPD is a collection of several illnesses and the most frequent of which are emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

Common symptoms of COPD

The following are the common symptoms of COPD:

  • Shortness of breath.
  • Chronic cough.
  • Frequent respiratory infections.
  • Fatigue.
  • Blueness of the lips or fingernail beds which is commonly called cyanosis.
  • Wheezing.
  • More mucus production. 

Emphysema

Emphysema is the shortness of breath. The air sacs in the lungs (alveoli) are damaged in people with emphysema.

Causes of emphysema

 It is caused by cigarette smoking and inhalation of smoke or toxic substances over a period of time. 

image

Fig: Causes of emphysema

Common symptoms of emphysema

The common symptoms of emphysema include the following:

  • Inflammation of bronchioles or alveolar sacs.
  • The alveolar septa collapses and decreases the surface area of gaseous exchange.
  • Loss of elasticity in the walls of bronchioles or alveolar sacs. Hence expiration becomes difficult and patients are not able to remove air from the alveoli during expiration.
  • Lungs remain inflated.

image

Fig: Common symptoms of emphysema

Prevention of emphysema

The following measures can be taken to prevent emphysema:

  • Stop cigarette smoking.
  • Use masks to escape from air pollution.

image

Fig: Prevention of emphysema

Cure for emphysema

This disease causes irreversible distension and loss of elasticity of alveoli of the lungs. Hence there is no permanent cure for the disease. Treatment can retard or slow down the progression of the disease. Bronchodilators (drugs that cause widening of the bronchi) can be used for relief. Antibiotics can be used for treating the underlying infections. Oxygen therapy is also useful. 

Chronic bronchitis

Chronic bronchitis is a long term inflammation of bronchi. The production of mucus increases in the inflated bronchi in this condition.

Fig: Condition of bronchi in chronic bronchitis

Fig: Condition of bronchi in chronic bronchitis

Causes of chronic bronchitis

 This condition occurs more commonly in those people who smoke regularly. It can also be caused by infections. It is also caused by exposure to air pollutants like carbon monoxide. 

Fig: Causes of chronic bronchitis

Fig: Causes of chronic bronchitis

Common symptoms of chronic bronchitis

The common symptoms of chronic bronchitis include inflammation of bronchi, increase in mucus content, regular coughing and production of thick yellow greenish sputum.

Fig: Common symptoms of chronic bronchitis

Fig: Common symptoms of chronic bronchitis

Prevention and cure for chronic bronchitis

The following measures can be taken:

  • Avoid exposure to chemicals and pollutants.
  • The underlying infections need to be treated with antibiotics.
  • Bronchodilators can be used for relief.

Bronchial asthma

It is a condition in which airways become inflamed. Inflamed airways become narrow and swell resulting in producing extra mucus. It occurs due to genetic or environmental factors. The airway produces excess mucus and makes it difficult to breathe, resulting in coughing, shortness of breath, and wheezing. This is a long-term problem that makes it difficult to function properly. This is caused by allergens. Allergens stimulate histamine production from the mast cells. Histamine causes contraction of smooth muscles present on the bronchial wall which narrows this respiratory path. 

Fig: Causes of bronchial asthma

Fig: Condition of bronchi in bronchial asthma

Causes of bronchial asthma

Bronchial asthma is caused by a number of factors such as dust mites, fragrance, moulds, pets, cleaning chemicals and cigarette smoke. It is caused by the hypersensitivity of the bronchiole to the foreign substances (allergens). 

Fig: Common symptoms of bronchial asthma

Fig: Causes of bronchial asthma

Common symptoms of bronchial asthma

The symptoms of bronchial asthma include coughing, wheezing, and difficulty in breathing (expiration). It gets worse normally at night. 

Fig: Common symptoms of bronchial asthma

Fig: Common symptoms of bronchial asthma

Prevention and cure for bronchial asthma

The following measures can be taken:

  • Avoid exposure to allergens.
  • Hypersensitisation with allergens (exposing to small amounts of allergens) can relieve this condition to some extent. 
  • Antibiotic therapy can be used for treating the underlying infections. 
  • Bronchodilator drugs and inhalers can be used for relief. 

Pulmonary tuberculosis

Lung tissue is lost in pulmonary tuberculosis and replaced with fibrous connective tissue Tuberculosis is a very contagious disease. This means that the bacterium can quickly spread from one sick person to the healthy person easily. It primarily affects the lungs, but if left untreated, it might spread to different parts of the body. A chest X-ray along with a blood test is performed normally for diagnosis.

Fig: Condition of lungs in pulmonary tuberculosis

Fig: Condition of lungs in pulmonary tuberculosis

Causes of pulmonary tuberculosis

Pulmonary tuberculosis is caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The risk factors involve unhygienic conditions, HIV infection, and medicines that weaken the immune system. It is an airborne disease, which can be acquired from close contact with an infected person

Fig: Mycobacterium tuberculosis

Fig: Mycobacterium tuberculosis

Common symptoms of pulmonary tuberculosis

The common symptoms of pulmonary tuberculosis include the following:

  • Coughing
  • Chest pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Chills
  • Night sweats
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss

Fig: Common symptoms of pulmonary tuberculosis

Fig: Common symptoms of pulmonary tuberculosis

Treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis

The first-line treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis includes the following:

  • Two types of antibiotics are normally prescribed, they are the isoniazid and rifampicin. It needs to be taken for six months.
  • There are two additional antibiotics such as pyrazinamide and ethambutol. It is given for a period of two and six months, respectively.
  • Bacillus Calmette–Guérin (BCG) vaccine is the common vaccine primarily used against tuberculosis. This vaccine is prepared from a weakened strain of Mycobacterium bovis, which is closely related to Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

Pneumonia

Pneumonia is an acute infection which is characterised by the inflammation of air sacs in either one or both lungs. The air sacs or alveoli filled with mucus and pus. Due to this, the exchange of gases becomes difficult, as a result, the concentration of oxygen in blood is reduced. 

Fig: Condition of alveoli in pneumonia

Fig: Condition of alveoli in pneumonia

Causes of pneumonia

Pneumonia is caused by the following infectious agents:

  • Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus)
  • Haemophilus influenzae
  • Mycoplasma
  • Protozoans
  • Viruses
  • Other bacteria and fungi

Fig: Causative agents of pneumonia

Fig: Causative agents of pneumonia

Common symptoms of pneumonia

The common symptoms in pneumonia include difficulty in breathing and inflammation of alveoli. This occurs due to the fact that most of the air spaces of the alveoli are filled with fluid and white blood cells. This limits the gaseous exchange in the alveoli. Pneumonia presents itself as fever, chills, cough and headache. In severe cases, due to deficiency of oxygen, it can turn extremities like lips and nails blue or grey.

Fig: Common symptoms of pneumonia

Fig: Common symptoms of pneumonia

Prevention and cure for pneumonia

Pneumonia can be prevented by proper and timely vaccination. Antibiotics can be used to treat bacterial infections. Bronchodilator drugs will give relief. 

Fig: Pneumococcal vaccine

Fig: Pneumococcal vaccine

Occupational respiratory disorders

Any lung ailment that arises as a result of our job is referred to as occupational respiratory illness or disorders. It happens as a result of long-term exposure to specific chemicals like gases, fumes, dusts etc. It normally happens with people working in the mining, stone grinding, and stone breaking industries.

Fig: Common working conditions leads to occupational respiratory disorders

Fig: Common working conditions leads to occupational respiratory disorders

Causes of occupational respiratory disorders

Occupational respiratory disorders are caused by toxic gas fumes and dust. Exposure to toxic chemicals such as silica (results in silicosis) and asbestos (results in asbestosis) also causes these disorders.

Fig: Causes of occupational respiratory disorders

Fig: Causes of occupational respiratory disorders

Common symptoms of occupational respiratory disorders

Occupational respiratory disorders cause fibrosis (proliferation of the fibrous connective tissue) of the upper lung. It is a lung condition that happens when lung tissue is injured and scarred. This leads to the formation of thicker, hard tissue which makes it hard for the lungs to work properly.

Fig: Common symptoms of occupational respiratory disorders

Fig: Common symptoms of occupational respiratory disorders

Prevention and cure for occupational respiratory disorders

The following measures can be taken to prevent the occupational respiratory disorders:

  • These disorders can be prevented by using protection masks. For example, the workers at the duty sites can wear masks to minimise the exposure to the harmful chemicals.
  • Workers need to be informed about the risks at the worksites.
  • Regular monitoring or health check ups need to be followed for all workers.
  • Short intervals of holidays from worksites will also be preferred. 

Fig: Prevention of occupational respiratory disorders

Fig: Prevention of occupational respiratory disorders

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS)

In China, the SARS-CoV (Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus) was originally discovered in 2003. It was caused by a variant of the common cold virus (coronavirus). It was a serious illness, but it was not widely distributed. 

Fig: SARS-CoV (Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus)

Fig: SARS-CoV (Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus)

In 2019, a new strain of SARS-CoV-2 was discovered, which we now refer to as the coronavirus responsible for the COVID-19 infection. It has progressed to the point of being a pandemic disease. A pandemic is a disease which will spread over multiple countries or continents. 

Causes of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)

It is caused by coronavirus which is a single stranded virus. This disease is caused by a variety of viruses, including the human coronavirus. There are various strains, each with a different level of infectivity or hazard. However, it is always evolving and believed to have the potential to become more harmful. SARS is transmitted through direct contact and respiratory secretions.

Fig: Coronavirus

Fig: Coronavirus

Symptoms of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)

The common symptoms of SARS include the following:

  • Cold dry cough
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite 
  • Fever
  • Hypoxia
  • Chills
  • Dizziness
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose
  • Trouble in breathing

Fig: Common symptoms of SARS

Fig: Common symptoms of SARS

Prevention and cure for SARS

We can only take necessary steps towards preventing SARS. The common measures include the following::

  • Stay at home during the time of outbreaks.
  • Wash hands with sanitisers. 
  • Cover your mouth with a mask.
  • Do not touch your face after contacting people or surfaces.
  • Clean the surfaces.
  • Maintain a safe distance.
  • Eat healthy food.
  • Repeat steam inhalations. 

Fig: Preventive measures for SARS

Fig: Preventive measures for SARS

Pertussis or whooping cough

 Whooping cough or pertussis is a highly contagious infection of the respiratory tract. It is characterised by a severe cough which is then followed by a high-pitched voice of the breath (sounds like ‘whoop’). It affects people of any age but it commonly occurs in infants. It can cause permanent disability of the respiratory tract in infants in severe cases of infections and can cause death.

Causes of whooping cough

The infection of whooping cough is caused by the Bordetella pertussis bacteria. The bacteria are released into the air in minute droplets when an infected individual sneezes or coughs. The disease is quickly transferred from one individual to another.

Symptoms of whooping cough

Once a person becomes infected with whooping cough, the symptoms appear after seven to 10 days. The common symptoms of pertussis are listed below:

  • Running nose
  • Nasal congestion
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Watery eyes
  • Short loss of consciousness

Fig: Common symptoms of whooping cough

Fig: Common symptoms of whooping cough

Treatment for whooping cough

The treatment methods of whooping cough are listed below:

  • In the early stages, antibiotics such as erythromycin are given so that the symptoms disappear.
  • Children under 18 months old require regular observation since coughing might briefly stop their breathing. 
  • Hospitalisation is recommended for infants with serious conditions.
  • In severe cases, an oxygen tent is used with high humidity.
  • Sedatives that make a person sleepy are prescribed for young children.
  • The best preventive measure is the pertussis vaccine that doctors give with the combination of other two vaccines, diphtheria, and tetanus.
  • DTaP vaccine gives protection against whooping cough, diphtheria, and tetanus. It is used for infants and children.
  • Tdap vaccine gives protection against whooping cough, diphtheria, and tetanus. It is used for preteens, teens, and adults.

Carbon monoxide poisoning

It occurs when carbon monoxide builds up in the bloodstream. When more carbon monoxide is present in the air, the body replaces the oxygen in the red blood cells with carbon monoxide. This can lead to serious tissue damages or death.

Reason for carbon monoxide poisoning

The inhaled carbon monoxide diffuses from the alveolar air to blood and binds with haemoglobin. Haemoglobin normally shows higher affinity for carbon monoxide than oxygen. It normally shows 200 to 300 times more affinity with carbon monoxide (CO) than with oxygen. This results in the formation of carboxyhemoglobin. This prevents the binding of oxygen to haemoglobin, as both oxygen and carbon monoxide compete for the same binding sites on haemoglobin. 

Causes of carbon monoxide poisoning

The following are the common causes of carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • It can be caused by inhaling combustion fumes. 
  • Usage of various fuel-burning engines and appliances in a closed or partially closed space. 
  • Cooking with a charcoal grill indoors.
  • Inhalation of smoke during a fire.

Common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning

The common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include the following:

  • Dull headache
  • Dizziness
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Confusion
  • Blurred vision
  • Shortness of breath
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Life-threatening cardiac complications
  • Fetal death or miscarriage
  • Irreversible brain damage
  • Death in serious cases. It happens if the person is intoxicated while sleeping.

Fig: Common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning

Fig: Common symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning

Prevention and cure for carbon monoxide poisoning

The following measures can be taken to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning:

  • Installing carbon monoxide detectors. For example, in resorts located at high altitudes. 
  • We must open the garage door before starting a car.
  • Use only the recommended gas appliances.
  • Portable gas camp stoves must be used only outdoors. 
  • Never run a generator in an enclosed space.
  • Keep fuel-burning appliances and engines in a properly ventilated area. For example, furnaces, portable generators, charcoal grills, wood-burning stoves etc.
  • Keep the vents and chimneys unblocked.

Bronchogenic carcinoma

It is the cancer that begins in the tissue that lines or covers the lung airways. It occurs due to the uncontrolled growth of cells. 

Causes of bronchogenic carcinoma

It is caused by the following factors:

  • It can result due to smoking mainly.
  • Continuous exposure and breathing in of chemicals like asbestos, arsenic, nickel, uranium, cadmium, chromium, and some petroleum products also can result in this cancer. 
  • Continuous exposure to exhaust smoke and other particles in the air also result in bronchogenic cancer. 
  • It can also occur due to predisposing genetic factors. For example, a family history of lung cancer results in higher risk.

Common symptoms of bronchogenic carcinoma

The following are the common symptoms of bronchogenic carcinoma:

  • Presence of blood stained sputum.
  • Cough
  • Difficulty in breathing.
  • Chest pain.
  • Occasional change in voice.
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sudden loss of weight.

Fig: Common symptoms of bronchogenic carcinoma

Fig: Common symptoms of bronchogenic carcinoma

Prevention and cure for bronchogenic carcinoma

The following measures can be taken:

  • Avoid smoking.
  • Avoid exposure to carcinogens in the atmosphere and occupational sites.
  • Reduce the level of carcinogens in the occupational sites.
  • Follow the regular check-ups.
  • If diagnosed with cancer, take proper treatment. For example, chemotherapy, combined therapy, surgery etc. 

Practice Problems

Q1. A diagnostic examination revealed that a patient's alveolar walls had been compromised. The respiratory system took a hit as a result of this. This patient was a chain smoker in the past. Which of the following respiratory diseases could this patient be suffering from?

A. Tuberculosis
B. Pneumonia
C. Emphysema
D. Sneezing

Solution: The alveolar walls of an emphysema patient are damaged (the outer layer of air containing pouches present in respiratory organs called lungs). As a result, the respiratory surface is reduced. One of the primary causes of this respiratory illness is cigarette smoking. Hence, the correct option is c.

Q2. Asthma occurs due to _________________.

A. tracheal infection
B. lung-bursting
C. spasm in bronchial muscles
D. bleeding in the pleural cavity

Solution: Asthma is a condition in which airways become inflamed. Inflamed airways become narrow and swell resulting in producing extra mucus. It occurs due to genetic or environmental factors. Hypersensitivity of the bronchiole to foreign particles in the air is the most common cause of asthma. Asthma is characterised by smooth muscle spasms (uncontrollable contractions) in the bronchial walls. Hence, the correct option is c.

Q3. Pneumonia is caused by which of the following causative agents?

A. Bacteria
B. Protozoa
C. Fungi
D. All of the above

Solution: Pneumonia is a contagious disease that affects the lungs. It causes an acute infection and alveolar inflammation. The exchange of gases becomes harder as the alveoli get clogged with mucus and pus. The amount of oxygen in the blood reduces as a result of this. Bacteria (Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae), protozoa (Entamoeba histolytica causes parasitic pneumonia called pulmonary amoebiasis), virus (SARS-CoV-2), and fungi (Rhizomucor) are the common infectious agents that cause pneumonia. Hence, the correct option is d.

Q4. Mountain sickness happens when a person climbs to high altitudes without using oxygen cylinders. This occurs due to ________________.

A. Lack of haemoglobin
B. Lack of erythrocytes
C. Hypoxia
D. None of the above

Solution: The air pressure is getting reduced with the rise in altitude. The pO2 also falls proportionally in the atmospheric air at higher altitudes. This lowers the alveolar pO2 and reduces diffusion of oxygen from the alveolar air to the blood. This decreases the level of oxygenated blood in the body. This fall in oxygenated blood leads to the symptoms of mountain sickness. The faster a person climbs to a high altitude, the more prone a person to mountain sickness. Hence, the correct option is c.

FAQs

Question 1. What happens if the diaphragm is not present?
Answer: The sole muscle that separates the thoracic and abdominal cavities is the diaphragm. When the diaphragm contracts, the thoracic cavity expands, allowing air to enter the lungs. Any living mammal would be unable to breathe normally without a diaphragm.

Question 2. When does the respiratory rate increase?
Answer: The respiratory rate increases in a condition when oxygen level becomes too low to meet the body’s requirements or the carbon dioxide level becomes too high.

Question 3. Which factors are responsible for respiratory disorders?
Answer: The most common factors responsible for respiratory disorders are as follows:

  • Infections by bacteria, fungi, viruses etc.
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Asbestos, and other forms of air pollutants
  • Immunity related issues 

Question 4. Do oxygen levels fall during sleep?
Answer: The oxygen level falls during sleep due to slightly reduced level of breathing. The oxygen saturation falls during sleep up to 88%.

Related Topics

Exchange of gases: Partial pressure, Diffusion, Sites of exchange of gases, Practice Problems and FAQs

Regulation of respiration: Neural and Chemical regulation, Practice problems and FAQs

Mechanism of breathing, Difference between inspiration and expiration, Abdominal breathing, Thoracic breathing, Hering - Breuer reflex, Practice Problems and FAQs

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