Respiratory Diseases Common in Mechanical Ventilation

Mechanical ventilation is often delivered to patients with respiratory failure from a variety of respiratory diseases.  Respiratory diseases can be classified as either obstructive or restrictive in nature.  Obstructive respiratory disease is a condition that results in difficulty exhaling all the air from the lungs.  Those with restrictive lung disease have difficulty  fully expanding their lungs.  Both conditions share the main symptom: shortness of breath.

Obstructive Lung Disease

Obstructive lung disease is characterized by airway obstruction.  Individuals have difficulty exhaling all the air out of the lungs. 

Obstructive lung diseases include:

  •  Chronic obstructive airway disease (COPD) which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis
  • Asthma
  • Bronchiectasis
  • Cystic fibrosis

Restrictive Lung Disease

Restrictive lung disease is characterized by restriction.  Individuals with restrictive lung disease have difficulty fully expanding their lungs with air.  It most often results from conditions that cause stiffness in the lungs themselves.  It can also be caused by stiffness in the chest wall, weak muscles or damaged nerves. 

Restrictive lung diseases include:

  •  Pulmonary fibrosis
  • Pneumonia
  • Pulmonary edema
  •  Sarcoidosis
  • Obesity hypoventilation syndrome
  • Scoliosis
  • Neuromuscular diseases, such as Amyotropic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or Muscular Dystrophy.  

A patient may go into respiratory failure for a wide variety of reasons.  Healthcare professionals must understand the underlying disorder to treat the patient effectively.  The type of mechanical ventilation used will vary based on the underlying disorder. 

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