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There are various types of lung diseases that can lead to acute or chronic respiratory conditions. While smoking and other air pollutants form the leading causes of these conditions, others are inherited or idiopathic (where the cause remains unknown) in nature. Other environmental factors can also contribute to the development of lung diseases.

Most Common Types of Lung Disease


About 25 million people in the U.S. suffer from asthma. Individuals with a family history of asthma or other respiratory conditions are more prone to developing this condition. Asthma is a disease characterized by excessive inflammation and mucus production in the lungs. 

Although the severity of asthma varies from person to person, many individuals with this condition require daily medication to alleviate their symptoms.

Lung Cancer

As the third most common type of cancer in the U.S., lung cancer affects over 200,000 individuals. The major types include small and non-small cell lung cancer. The leading risk factor for development of lung cancer is exposure to cigarette smoke. Often development of lung cancer can progress silently, without any symptoms. That is why lung cancer screening is important. When symptoms do appear, they can frequently include a cough that can be accompanied by blood, fatigue, and weight loss.

Cystic Fibrosis

Approximately 35,000 people in the U.S. have cystic fibrosis, a genetic condition that causes thick mucus to accumulate in the body. It frequently results in digestive and respiratory problems. The initial signs of cystic fibrosis are usually detected early in life, as newborns in the U.S. are screened for the condition. If a diagnosis is not made at birth, then symptoms developed in childhood can lead to a later diagnosis.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

COPD is a respiratory disease that is broadly classified into two main categories: chronic bronchitis and emphysema. When the air sacs in the lungs become damaged or less elastic, it can lead to the development of emphysema. Chronic bronchitis is caused by inflammation and irritation of the lining of the respiratory passages that run through the lungs. COPD can also make it difficult to breathe and lead to an overproduction of mucus.

In the U.S., around 15 million individuals have been diagnosed with COPD. Approximately 12 million additional people are believed to have the condition but have not been diagnosed. COPD is regarded as the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S.