The Signs and Symptoms of Respiratory Disorders







The Signs and Symptoms of Respiratory Disorders



A respiratory disorder is caused by respiratory diseases that affect the airways and other structures of lungs. Some of the respiratory diseases that cause respiratory disorders are asthma, pneumonia, pulmonary eosinophilia, chronic pleural diseases, lung fibrosis, and others that cause discomfort in the respiratory system (WHO). Key to the diagnosis of respiratory disorders is the signs and symptoms that should attract medical attention. These will be the focus of this paper

Starting with breathing difficulties, it is one of the signs that can tell that a person has a respiratory disorder. When one is suffering from a respiratory disorder, they mostly experience breathing imbalance problems. In auscultation, the normal breathing sounds between inhalation and exhalation is 3:2. However, when one has a respiratory disorder, the pathological expiration sound may take as long as the inspiration or the ration reversed (Tellingen & Bie, 2009). Moreover, one is likely to have spastically prolonged expiration with wheezing, most especially when the disorder in question is asthma. Asthma is a chronic inflammatory disorder that affects the airways and when suffering from it, one breathes out against a resistance, making them produce a sound that is not normal in breathing (Tellingen & Bie, 2009).

Cough is another sign and it is very common in most cases of respiratory disorders. It occurs so as to expel all the unwanted elements from the respiratory tract, which include any foreign elements generated by the host (Baldwin, n.d). Cough is mostly experienced when someone has upper respiratory disorder, when one inhales irritants such as chemicals and dust, when there is accumulation of products within the lungs, and when suffering from a lower respiratory disorder (Baldwin, n.d).

Decrease in muscle tone is also common among those suffering from a respiratory disorder. Some disorders can weaken one’s muscles by lowering the tone. In a case where one is suffering from pneumonia, muscle movement is largely affected because the musculature is generally hypotonic. This means that the muscle has an increased dissolving tendency, hence producing problems in muscle movements (Tellingen & Bie, 2009).

Decreased appetite is also a symptom that one could be suffering from a respiratory disorder. In the case of pneumonia, for instance, there will be increased metabolism in the lungs. Metabolic functions are for the digestive system and they take place during food digestion (Tellingen & Bie, 2009). However, where a person has pneumonia, the metabolic function is affected and is no longer used for food digestion. This leads to lack of appetite and one is not able to eat properly, due to the creation of a negative nitrogen balance. In addition, most of the metabolic energy is used by the body to fight off the pneumonia. Such a person also experiences a high fever (Tellingen & Bie, 2009).

Disturbed sleep is another symptom of respiratory disorder. When one has a respiratory disorder, he/she might snore and this can cause a lot of disturbance in sleep. This sign is associated with sleep apnoea syndrome, but it also signifies that one is suffering from upper airway obstruction. Snoring can be worse to people who are overweight. In some cases, it may be so loud that it can be heard from outside the room (Elsevier, 2012). On the other hand, people with respiratory disorders like asthma can experience sleeplessness during exacerbations. When a person lies down, they experience an increased shortness of breath, which makes them not to sleep comfortably (Elsevier, 2012).

The other symptom of respiratory disorders is haemoptysis. The context of this showing up can be determined by finding out whether a person has haemoptysis in the form of small clots or little lines in the sputum (Baldwin, 2011). This is a symptom that requires very strict treatment because it can indicate malignancy diagnosis. In fact, many patients might avoid mentioning haemoptysis even when they are experiencing it. However, because of the danger posed by this symptom, it is important that it is reported fast enough for early treatment. It is also a symptom that if not taken into much consideration, can lead to lung cancer (Baldwin, 2011).

Sputum is another cause of worry as far as respiratory disorder is concerned. One should be on the look out to establish the nature and the frequency of the sputum. When one has a respiratory condition that is on a daily basis, the sputum is also produced daily. This can, therefore, be considered a chronic disorder. This is especially the case when suffering from chronic bronchitis. It involves a cough that occurs for more than three months in every two successive years (Elsevier, 2012). In such a case, one should be concerned on knowing how much sputum they produce and most importantly, the type of sputum. Also, one should be able to tell the color of the sputum; if it is cloudy or clear. All these are important to consider for proper diagnosis (Elsevier, 2012).

Chest pain is another symptom that should be looked into when diagnosing respiratory disorders. This pain is known as Pleuritic chest pain and is stabbing in nature; with a very sharp pain occurring often when breathing in. For proper diagnosis, one should be able to tell when it started, how long it has been there, the severity, as well as any other history. In this case, one should find out how the pain relates to other symptoms of respiratory disorders, and also find out other risk factors involved (Baldwin, 2011). If a patient experiences chest pain for a long period of time, for instance years or months, this might be an inflammatory disorder resulting in pleurisy. This condition might occur in a variety of collagen vascular disorders, but it rarely causes pleurisy chest pain. When one is experiencing a chest pain that is persistent in one area and that is causing sleeplessness nights, it might be as a result of infection of the chest wall by malignant processes within it. This pain can worsen with time and requires serious medical attention to prevent any further damage (Baldwin, 2011).

In conclusion, the respiratory system is a very important part of the body and this could explain why disorders affecting it can turn fatal, if not extremely disturbing. Care should be taken so as to seek medical attention soon enough. On the same note, the right diagnosis should be undertaken hence the need for knowledge regarding signs and symptoms. They include chest pain, sputum, haemoptysis, disturbed sleep, decreased appetite, cough, breathing difficulties, and decreased muscle tone. Fortunately, most these signs and symptoms manifest themselves quite clearly making diagnosis easier. Treatment should then be followed as directed by the physician.

Baldwin D. (2011). The respiratory system. Retrieved on 25/8/2015


Elsevier. (2012). Respiratory Disorders. Retrieved on 25/8/2015 From:        099.pdf

Tellingen, C. & Bie, G. (2009). Respiratory System Disorders and Therapy From a

New, Dynamic: Louis Bolk Instituut. Driebergen, Netherlands Retrieved August 25th from

World Health Organization (WHO) (2013). Chronic respiratory diseases. Retrieved on 25/8/2015 from:    

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