Respiratory Conditions

Respiratory Conditions

Our lungs work hard to keep us breathing. They allow oxygen to enter our respiratory system while expelling carbon dioxide.

Breathing is not something we do consciously, which is why our lungs are so incredible. They continuously keep oxygen circulating through our body and protect us from bacterial infections, all while we go about our daily tasks.
As amazing as they are, our lungs are also delicate. Respiratory conditions (also known as lung diseases) are very common and affect the airways and lungs, causing severe breathing difficulties. If left untreated, these conditions can significantly impact a person’s quality of life, overall health, and co-morbidities.

Testing your lung function is essential for diagnosis of lung diseases. The specialists at North Brisbane Sleep and Thoracic are highly trained sleep and respiratory physicians, experienced in caring for simple to complex cases. They utilise the latest treatment approaches to provide patients with the best possible treatment outcomes.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease | NBST

Types of Lung Diseases

Bronchiectasis

A multifaceted lung condition characterised by persistent airflow limitation, encompassing chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

Respiratory Infections

A multifaceted lung condition characterised by persistent airflow limitation, encompassing chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

A multifaceted lung condition characterised by persistent airflow limitation, encompassing chronic bronchitis and emphysema.

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is a complex disease characterised by the abnormal growth of cells within the lungs, often forming malignant tumours.

A condition of inflamed airways, making it difficult to breathe. While asthma can be controlled with medications (such as a tablet or inhaler), there is a possibility of experiencing what is referred to as an asthma attack, where symptoms worsen and make it feel like you aren’t breathing in enough air. Serious asthma flare-ups require medical attention.

A condition where long-term lung infections lead to damaged airways, causing the lungs to be permanently widened, ultimately preventing them from clearing mucus.

A chronic inflammatory lung disease that causes obstructed airflow, leading to damaged lungs clogged with phlegm. It is primarily composed of emphysema and chronic bronchitis.

One of the most common and serious types of cancer where the collection of cancerous cells uncontrollably grows in either one or both lungs, spreading into the lung tissue and usually blocking an airway.

  • Pneumonia: A lung infection that causes inflammation in the lungs and is usually caused by bacteria or a virus. The inflammation leads to the air sacs in your lungs becoming filled with fluid.
  • Influenza: A contagious respiratory illness commonly known as the flu that infects the nose, throat, and lungs, causing mild to severe illness and sometimes leading to death.
  • Common Cold: The most common contagious disease in Australia, infecting the nose, throat, and lungs, causing symptoms of coughing, itchy throat, stuffy blocked nose, and sneezing.
  • Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis: A chronic and progressive lung disease that involves scarring of lung tissue without a known cause. This scarring, known as fibrosis, leads to stiffening of the lungs, making it difficult to breathe.
  • Pulmonary Hypertension: A type of high blood pressure that affects the arteries in the lungs, causing the arteries to narrow and thicken, increasing blood flow resistance and causing the pressure within the lung arteries to rise.
  • Emphysema: A long-term lung condition where the walls of the alveoli (small air sacs within your lungs) are damaged, causing the lung’s small airways to collapse when exhaling.
  • Cystic Fibrosis (CF): A genetic disorder that affects the respiratory, digestive, and reproductive systems, characterised by thick, sticky mucus that can clog the airways and obstruct the pancreas.
  • Diffuse Dust Fibrosis: A group of lung diseases caused by the inhalation of different types of dust particles, leading to scarring of the lung tissue.
  • Asbestosis: A chronic lung disease caused by inhaling asbestos fibres over an extended period, causing scarring and inflammation of the lung tissue.
  • Bronchiolitis Obliterans: A rare and serious lung disease that involves the inflammation and subsequent scarring or obliteration of the small airways called bronchioles, leading to obstructed airflow and respiratory difficulties.

Lung Disease Symptoms

  • Unexplained breathlessness: It’s normal to feel out of breath after exercise (whether a brief walk or weight training), however unexplained shortness of breath can be a sign of lung disease.
  • Wheezing: This is often associated with difficulty breathing and usually sounds like a high-pitched whistling sound when you breathe (both inhaling and exhaling).
  • Fatigue: Everyone feels tired after a long day of work or physical exercise which can be relieved after a good night’s sleep. But constant exhaustion is typically related to medical conditions, including lung disease.
  • Persistent coughing: Most people will experience slight lingering coughs throughout their lives which is very common. However, persistent coughing that lasts for weeks at a time can be a sign of lung disease.
  • Coughing up blood: No matter how much or how little blood you cough up, this is a sign of a health problem. If you experience this symptom, you should see your doctor as soon as possible.
  • Chronic chest pain: Some chest pain is normal, as it can be caused by heavy lifting or swallowing a large piece of food, creating a temporary dull ache. But if you experience continuous unexplained chest pain, you may have a lung disease.
  • Unintentional weight loss: Whether planned or unplanned, weight loss can be natural. You may be exercising regularly to lose weight, or have started eating healthier. But if there are no significant changes to your physical regime and you notice weight loss, this may be a sign of lung disease.
  • Mucus production: Producing mucus can be caused by several factors that are not related to a medical condition, such as exercise, tobacco use, or certain foods like milk and chilli. However, you may have a lung disease if you are coughing up mucus for an unknown reason.

If you experience any of these symptoms, request a referral from your GP to North Brisbane Sleep and Thoracic. Our specialists can determine the severity of your potential lung condition and discuss treatment options with you.

Testing and Treatments

Testing

North Brisbane Sleep and Thoracic provides a wide range of lung function tests.

  • Diffusing Capacity: Extremely useful test of how gas diffuses into lungs to aid in diagnosing various respiratory conditions, specifically ideal for identifying and monitoring emphysema.
  • FeNO Testing: Non-invasive test that measures the amount of nitric oxide gas in a person’s breath. Useful for diagnosing asthma.
  • Spirometry: Ideal for diagnosing and managing asthma and asthma-related symptoms through serial lung testing, as well as monitoring patients with COPD.
  • Lung Volumes: A safe and non-invasive test to determine the total volume of air someone can inhale and exhale, as well as residual volume of air. Aids in diagnosing interstitial lung disease (ILD), fibrosis, hyperinflation, and gas trapping.
  • Bronchoscopy: Used to assess respiratory issues and enables your doctor to visualise and sample the respiratory system. The procedure uses a flexible camera to look inside the airways.

Treatment:

  • Zephyr Endobronchial Valves: Minimally-invasive endobronchial device for emphysema, consistently shown to be safe and effective for patients with severe emphysema.
  • Oxygen Therapy: Minimally-invasive treatment that uses either tubes in your nose or windpipe, or a face mask. Ideal for conditions that cause blood oxygen levels to lower.
  • Pulmonary Rehabilitation: A supervised program for people with lung conditions, breathing difficulties, or have had a lung transplant.
  • Lung Transplant: Surgical procedure that replaces a diseased lung with a healthy one, often performed on patients with severe lung conditions in instances where other treatments have been ineffective.
  • Tracheostomy: Surgical procedure to place a breathing tube through a hole made in the front of your neck and into your windpipe.
  • Thoracentesis: Relatively pain-free procedure performed to remove excess fluid from the space between your lungs and chest wall to relieve breathing difficulties.

When to See a GP

If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms in a manner that is abnormal for you, book an appointment with your GP as soon as possible and request a referral to North Brisbane Sleep and Thoracic.

Check up

Prevalence of Lung Disease

Asthma and COPD are the two most common lung diseases in Australia. In 2020-2021, 11% of the population (2.7 million people) had asthma, while 2021 saw COPD as the leading underlying cause of death in Australia (4.1% of total deaths), affecting roughly 1 in 20 Australians over the age of 45. Silicosis, however, only affects roughly 500-600 Australians each year.

In Australia, pneumonia results in several hundred thousand GP consults every year and over 40,000 hospital admissions, making it the sixth leading cause of Australian deaths.

Contact us to book an appointment

Visit us at either our Clayfield or North Lakes locations and experience compassionate care in a comfortable environment, tailored to meet your unique needs.

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