Chronic respiratory diseases (CRDs) are diseases of the airways and other structures of the lung. Some of the most common are chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, occupational lung diseases and pulmonary hypertension. In addition to tobacco smoke, other risk factors include air pollution, occupational chemicals and dusts, and frequent lower respiratory infections during childhood. CRDs are not curable, however, various forms of treatment that help dilate major air passages and improve shortness of breath can help control symptoms and increase the quality of life for people with the disease. The WHO Global Alliance against CRDs (GARD) vision is a world in which all people breathe freely, GARD focuses in particular on the needs of people with CRDs in low-income and middle-income countries.
The aim of the WHO Chronic Respiratory Diseases Programme is to support Member States in their efforts to reduce the toll of morbidity, disability and premature mortality related to chronic respiratory diseases, and specifically, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Chronic respiratory diseases are chronic diseases of the airways and other structures of the lung. Some of the most common are:
- chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
Asthma is a chronic disease characterized by recurrent attacks of breathlessness and wheezing, which vary in severity and frequency from person to person. Symptoms may occur several times in a day or week in affected individuals, and for some people become worse during physical activity or at night. Asthma is the most common chronic disease among children.
COPD is not one single disease but an umbrella term used to describe chronic lung diseases that cause limitations in lung airflow. The most common symptoms of COPD are breathlessness, or a ‘need for air’, excessive sputum production, and a chronic cough.
Many risk factors for chronic respiratory diseases have been identified and can be prevented.
- tobacco smoking, including second hand smoke
- indoor air pollution
- outdoor air pollution
- occupational risks and vulnerability
from asthma, a common disease among children
of COPD deaths
occur in low-income and middle-income countries
each year from COPD, an estimated 6% of all deaths worldwide