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Respiratory Conditions

Health family enjoying the beach


Asthma is characterised by inflammation, narrowing, and potential swelling of the airways, leading to increased production of mucus, which can obstruct breathing. Asthma flare-ups often result from spasms in the airways and can manifest gradually over hours, days, or weeks, or rapidly within minutes. Common symptoms of asthma include breathlessness, wheezing, chest tightness, and coughing. In Australia, asthma affects approximately 1 in 9 individuals, with nearly 38,000 Australians hospitalised in a year due to asthma-related issues. It is estimated 80% of these hospitalisations could have been prevented by managing Asthma well.

older couple walking in nature


Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a common respiratory condition marked by cough, breathlessness, and restricted airflow. It stems from narrowed airways, often encompassing emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Despite its prevalence, many Australians may be unaware of their COPD status, with up to half of cases undiagnosed. Main causes include smoking, environmental exposure, and genetic factors like alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency.

Diagnosis typically involves clinical assessment and lung function tests, such as spirometry. While COPD has no cure, early intervention is crucial for symptom management and disease stabilisation. Treatment options may include smoking cessation, physical activity, medication, vaccinations, and, in severe cases, oxygen therapy.

older couple walking


Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) stands as the most prevalent among spontaneously occurring diffuse parenchymal lung diseases, also termed idiopathic interstitial pneumonias (IIPs). This rare lung ailment involves the thickening and scarring of lung tissue around the air sacs, leading to stiffness and impaired oxygen transfer into the bloodstream. Annually, around 1,250 Australians are diagnosed with IPF, with early symptoms often subtle, including shortness of breath, dry cough, reduced exercise tolerance, fatigue, and unintended weight loss.

Treatment options encompass medications like Pirfenidone and Nintedanib, which slow disease progression, along with oxygen therapy and, in severe cases, lung transplantation on a case-by-case basis.

doctor reassuring patient


Lung cancer is the growth of abnormal cells or malignant tumors in one or both lungs. Primary lung cancer originates in the lung tissue, while secondary tumors, known as metastases, may result from cancer spreading from other parts of the body. Risk factors include smoking, occupational exposures, pollution, and genetics. Symptoms may include cough, hemoptysis (coughing up blood), breathlessness, chest pain, weight loss, and voice hoarseness.

Fortunately, Screening programs have been initiated by the government to detect lung cancer early. Diagnosis typically involves biopsy and may include blood tests, CT scans, PET scans, and sputum tests. Treatment options such as surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and Immunotherapy.

doctor holding healthy lungs in his hands


A pulmonary embolism happens when a blood clot, often originating from deep vein thrombosis in the legs, breaks free and travels to the lungs, blocking a blood vessel. This blockage disrupts blood flow to the lungs, which can lead to dangerously low oxygen levels and stress on the body's organs. Additionally, the blockage can strain the right side of the heart, impairing its function.

healthy older couple cycling


Pulmonary hypertension is a condition characterised by high blood pressure in the arteries of the lungs, leading to strain on the heart and reduced oxygen levels in the blood. It can cause symptoms like shortness of breath, fatigue, chest pain, and fainting. Treatment options include medications, lifestyle changes, and sometimes surgery or other procedures to relieve symptoms and improve quality of life. Regular monitoring and management are essential to prevent complications and maintain overall health. There are medications available to help a subset of such patients.

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