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  • Print publication year: 2000
  • Online publication date: June 2014

Chapter 17 - Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and diseases of the airways

Summary

Introduction

Airflow obstruction, due to chronic obstructive lung disease, and parenchymal and airways disease due to other etiologies are major causes of morbidity and mortality. They account for a very large percentage of healthcare costs. The airways are in open communication with the direct environment. Anything inhaled will come into direct contact with the airways. Many disorders of large and small airways are therefore associated with inhaled substances, such as cigarette smoke, atmospheric pollution and other exposures related to work or hobbies. Even in airway diseases of unknown etiology, environmental factors affect the histopathology. Disorders of the bronchioles show similar changes to those observed in larger airways, caused by inhalation of cigarette smoke and other noxious materials. In addition small airways can show changes that are more often associated with alveolar disease.

This chapter will discuss diseases originating in the airways or notably affecting airway function. The different components of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), namely chronic bronchitis/bronchiolitis and emphysema, will be discussed separately. Pulmonary and systemic diseases that feature airway involvement, such as asthma and connective tissue diseases, are described elsewhere in the textbook (see Chapters 15 and 21).

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