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The Difference Between Obstructive and Restrictive Lung Disease

24 May 2016
| Under Disease Education, Lung Disease, Medical | Posted by | 14 Comments
The Difference Between Obstructive & Restrictive Lung Disease

Doctors classify lung disease as either obstructive or restrictive. The term obstructive lung disease includes conditions that hinder a person’s ability to exhale all the air from their lungs. Those with restrictive lung disease experience difficulty fully expanding their lungs. Obstructive and restrictive lung disease share one main symptom–shortness of breath with any sort of physical exertion. Here’s what you need to know about the difference between obstructive and restrictive lung disease.

Obstructive Lung Diseases

Obstructive lung disease and its characteristic narrowing of pulmonary airways hinder a person’s ability to completely expel air from the lungs. The practical result is that by the end of every breath, quite a bit of air remains in the lungs. Some common conditions related to obstructive lung disease include:

Obstructive lung disease makes breathing especially harder during increased activity or exertion. Exhalations take longer with obstructive lung disease, so that as the rate of breathing increases and the lungs work harder, the amount of fresh air circulated into the lungs, and spent air circulated out, decreases.

Restrictive Lung Diseases

The Difference Between Obstructive & Restrictive Lung Disease

People suffering from restrictive lung disease have a hard time fully expanding their lungs when they inhale. That is, it’s more difficult to fill lungs with air. This is a result of the lungs being restricted from fully expanding.  This can occur when tissue in the chest wall becomes stiffened, or due to weakened muscles or damaged nerves. Any of these factors can restrict the expansion of the lungs. Some of the conditions classified as restrictive lung disease include:

The severity of most lung diseases is tested by using a pulmonary function test. Obstructive and restrictive lung diseases can cause shortness of breath, severe coughing and chest pain. Treatments are different for each condition and will require a special treatment plan provided by your doctor. If you have been diagnosed or suspect that you might have a lung disease, you should talk to your doctor about your condition immediately. Do some research on your own to be sure to ask the right questions.

We hope that you have found our article about the difference between obstructive and restrictive lung disease helpful. While having a chronic lung disease presents many challenges, you can improve your quality of life by gaining more knowledge about your condition, learning healthy lifestyles and trying alternative treatments. If you or a loved one is interested in stem cell therapy for lung disease, contact us at the Lung Institute to learn more or call (800) 729-3065.

14 Comments

  1. PB

    3 weeks ago

    Dear Aziz,

    Thanks for your comment and question. Cystic fibrosis (CF) is considered an obstructive lung disease. Obstructive lung diseases make it difficult for a people to completely expel all the air from their lungs before they take their next breath. Because there is still air trapped inside the lungs, it’s hard for them to breathe in enough new oxygen. Other types of obstructive lung diseases include COPD, emphysema and bronchiectasis. We hope this information is helpful to you, and we encourage you to talk with your doctor about any questions or concerns you have regarding CF. We wish you the best.

    Kind Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  2. Aziz Torres

    3 weeks ago

    so is CF obstructive or restrictive? I’m hearing a lot that CF is more considered restrictive.

  3. PB

    6 months ago

    Dear Joann,

    First and foremost, we’re sorry to hear that you’re having such a difficult time breathing. Many people with emphysema experience similar symptoms. Because emphysema and other chronic lung diseases affect people differently, it’s important to discuss your symptoms, questions and concerns with your doctor. We recommend writing down any questions you have or items you wish to discuss in a small notebook to take with you to your next appointment. You can include your question about what your doctor means when he or she says that your lungs are at 100% even though you are having difficulty breathing. Because your doctor knows you and your health situation well, he or she will be able to best answer your questions and guide you. We wish you the best.

    Kind Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  4. Joann

    6 months ago

    My doctor has told me my lungs are at 100% I was diagnosed with Emphysema at age 35 . I am 72 years old and quit smoking 29 years ago. What does 100% mean I am taking Stioilto -Resprimat and Pro -FHA . I am having a very hard time breathing now.

  5. PB

    7 months ago

    Dear Pamela,

    While it’s true that obesity can worsen lung disease symptoms, because of the complexities of lung diseases and how obesity affects them, it’s always best to discuss any questions and concerns with your physician. Because your doctor knows you and your health situation well, he or she will have resources, tips and techniques to help develop the best treatment plan for you.

    Best Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  6. Pamela

    7 months ago

    Your non-answer to my question is not helpful.

  7. PB

    7 months ago

    Dear Pamela,

    Thanks for your question. To best answer your question, we recommend talking with your doctor. Because your doctor knows you and your health situation the best, he or she will be able to answer your questions, discuss your concerns and develop a treatment plan.

    Best Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  8. Pamela

    7 months ago

    Can restrictive lung disease be entirely due to obesity?

  9. sh

    8 months ago

    Hello, Judy.

    We would be happy to answer your questions and discuss stem cell treatment options with you. Please give us a call at (855) 313-1149 to speak with one of our patient coordinators. We hope to speak with you soon.

    Best Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  10. judy bradford

    8 months ago

    What can be done for expanded lungs caused by copd.

  11. PB

    1 year ago

    Hi, Bill,

    Thank you for your comment and for sharing some of your story. We are glad to hear you are signed-up for the next webinar. To learn more from some of our past patients, check out our past patient testimonials page at Patient Testimonials. For more information, you can contact one our patient coordinators at 1-855-313-1149.

    We look forward to hearing from you.

    Kind Regards,

    The Lung Institute

  12. Bill L.

    1 year ago

    I never knew a thing about stem cell therapy,for sure the doctor’s i have seen never mentioned it,I did have one however mention lung transplants and this is how I happened to find your web-site,I am signed up for next webinar and will be in contact shortly after I’m sure,but until then,I only have my rescue inhaler”combivent”and the advair 500 to help me get by with the oxygen therapy

  13. Maren Auxier

    1 year ago

    Hi Jean,

    Thanks for stopping by! Please feel free to contact one of our patient coordinators at (855) 313-1149 to learn more about stem cell therapy for lung disease. We also have regular seminars and webinars. Please check out the Events section of our website to see our schedule.

    Thanks,

    Maren

  14. Jean

    1 year ago

    I have just discovered this website. I have ILD associated with scleroderma Lung capacity of 25%. I want to know more about this!

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