Did you know almost 37 million people in the United States live with chronic respiratory diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or bronchitis?
Acute respiratory disease and infectious respiratory diseases also cause ongoing health problems for millions more in America. For this reason, respiratory lab tests are an essential tool for the treatment and management of respiratory diseases.
You can catch many respiratory diseases through the air that can impact your respiratory system. If you want to learn more about respiratory disease and respiratory testing, keep reading this guide to learn everything you need to know.
What Is Respiratory Disease?
There are different types of respiratory disease, both acute and chronic. Acute respiratory infections are usually infectious caused by viruses and bacteria that can affect you anywhere in the respiratory system.
Acute respiratory infections are especially dangerous for children, older adults, and anybody with problems with their immune system. Causes of acute respiratory symptoms include:
- The common cold
- Ear infections
- Throat infections
Usually, people with acute respiratory infections have fatigue, body aches, and chest congestion.
Chronic Respiratory Disease
One of the most common types of chronic respiratory disease is asthma. When asthma flares up, it causes wheezing, coughing, and chest tightness. It's not known exactly why some people get asthma, and others don't, but the belief is that genetics play a role.
Another common chronic respiratory disease is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) which occurs when your lungs become inflamed. This inflammation leads to difficulty breathing, thickening of the lining of your lungs, and an overproduction of mucus.
Emphysema is another chronic respiratory disease that damages the air sacs in your lungs. When your lungs are healthy, the air sacs are strong, but emphysema weakens these sacs causing them to rupture.
Lung cancer is cancer that starts in your lungs. There are two main types of lung cancer, based upon how the cells appear under a microscope. The two main types include:
- Small cell lung cancer usually occurs from heavy smoking
- Non-small cell lung cancer is a term for all other types of lung cancer
If you smoke, you have the greatest risk of getting lung cancer, yet some people develop lung cancer that has never smoked. Even if you've been smoking for a long time, you can still quit and significantly reduce your chances of developing lung cancer.
Risk factors for Respiratory Disease
There are different risk factors for both acute and chronic respiratory disease. Risk factors for acute respiratory disease include:
- Poor hygiene
- Chronic medical conditions
- Old age
- Stress and poor mental health
Risk factors for chronic respiratory disease have a lot to do with the environment you live in. Risk factors include:
- Second-hand smoke
- Outdoor air pollution
- Indoor air pollution
Certain allergens and occupational risks include working with chemicals, dust, and fumes regularly.
Causes of Respiratory Disease
There are many causes of respiratory disease, depending on the type. Respiratory disease is most often caused by a bacteria, virus, or fungal infection.
Other respiratory diseases like asthma and lung cancer can be associated with asbestos exposure and air pollution. Other causes include:
- A genetic condition called Alpha-1 Deficiency
- A history of numerous respiratory infections during childhood
- Breathing in secondhand smoke frequently
Sometimes radon, an orderless gas present in many homes, can contribute to the development of lung cancer.
Signs and Symptoms of Respiratory Diseases
Most of the time, symptoms of a respiratory problem don't stick around for long, but there are symptoms you need to pay attention to, such as:
- A cough that becomes chronic, lasting more than eight weeks
- Shortness of breath at rest or with exercise
- Coughing up blood
- Ongoing chest pain
- Coughing up a lot of phlegm
- Not being able to cough up congestion
You should see your doctor right away if you're concerned about any respiratory symptoms you're having, especially if you feel shortness of breath and chest pain.
Diagnosis of Respiratory Disease
Your doctor will first ask you questions about your past medical history and current symptoms and then a physical exam. Your doctor will pay close attention while listening to your lungs and order tests to assess your lung function.
A pulmonary function test is a noninvasive test that measures your lung volume, capacity, flow, and how well you exchange gas. This is a great test to give an overall picture of how well your lungs are working.
An arterial blood gas test is usually done in a hospital and involves directly measuring your blood's oxygen and carbon dioxide levels. Blood is taken directly from an artery in your wrist to do this test, where your pulse is usually taken.
Other tests like a chest x-ray, CT scan, or ultrasound of your chest are also done to check the structure of your heart and lungs. Blood tests are also ordered to check for things like infections and antibody levels.
Lab Tests for Respiratory Disease
One of the first tests you'll have is a complete blood count (CBC), which measures your red blood cells and will detect if your white blood cells are elevated, which is a sign of infection.
A comprehensive metabolic panel is an important test to understand your electrolyte balance, liver and kidney health, and blood sugar levels.
Alpha-1-antitrypsin is used to test for a genetic problem in the alpha-1-antitrypsin (AAT) protein. This protein is a protectant for the lungs, and if they are not the right shape, they get stuck in the liver and never reach the lungs.
An ANA screen tests for autoimmune diseases like lupus and scleroderma, which can affect your lungs. A c-reactive protein lab will test for inflammation from infections, autoimmune disease, or a heart attack.
FAQS about Respiratory Disease
Have you ever wondered if there is a cure for asthma? The answer is no, there is no cure, but asthma can be effectively managed so you can live a full life. Being mindful of avoiding allergens and asthma triggers, as well as using your inhalers for immediate relief, are the best things you can do.
What is mesothelioma? Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that is caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos. Asbestos is an insulating material that used to be used in building construction, but it was later found to cause cancer.
Tests for Infectious Respiratory Diseases
Ulta Lab Tests offers highly accurate tests, allowing you to make informed decisions about your health.
Here are a few things to love about Ulta Lab Tests:
- You get secure and confidential results
- No need for health insurance
- No need for a physician's referral
- Always affordable pricing
- A 100% satisfaction guarantee
Respiratory diseases are serious and can lead to chronic health problems. Order your infectious respiratory disease test today, and you'll get secure online results in 24 to 48 hours in most cases.
Take charge of your health and visit Ulta Lab Tests today!