Although the mucus and cilia that line the nasal

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Although the mucus and cilia that line the nasal passages and trachea work to keep out foreign particles, the respiratory system is still vulnerable to infection from bacteria and viruses. Pathogens can be transmitted easily to the respiratory system by contaminated hands touching the nose or mouth. Washing your hands regularly helps prevent infection. Air pollution contributes to lung diseases, including respiratory tract infections, asthma, and lung cancer. Limiting your expo- sure to pollutants in the air, including environmental tobacco smoke, can also reduce your risk of developing respiratory disorders. Respiratory System Problems roblems of the respiratory system range from mild infections P to disorders that can damage lung tissue or interfere with res- piration. Colds and influenza are common infections of the upper respiratory system. Other infections and disorders affect the lower respiratory tract. Bronchitis is an inflammation of the bronchi caused by infection or exposure to irritants such as tobacco smoke and air pollution. In this condition the membranes that line the bronchi produce excessive mucus in the airways. Decreased airway diameter leads to symp- toms such as coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath that worsens with physical activity. Treatment includes medication that dilates the bronchial passages. Chronic bronchitis, a more serious form of the disease, is often caused by smoking. Early detection and treatment is important because the disease can cause irreversible tissue damage. Treatment includes eliminating exposure to the irri- tant. Pneumonia an inflammation of the lungs commonly caused by a bacterial or viral infection, actually includes several types of lung infections. In a common type of pneumonia, the alveoli swell and become clogged with mucus, decreasing the amount of gas exchange. Symptoms of pneumonia include cough, fever, chills, and chest pain. Bacterial pneumonia is treated with antibiotics. (PLUR-uh-see), an inflammation of the lining of the lungs and chest cavity, causes chest pain when breathing and coughing. Pleurisy Pneumonia Bronchitis 433 Lesson 4 Care and Problems of the Respiratory System asthma and cancer More information about asthma, cancer, and other noncommu- nicable diseases can be found in Chapter 26, page 674. environmental tobacco smoke For more information on the effects of tobacco use on the respiratory system, see Chapter 21, page 540. If the AQI measurement for the day is very high or if you are sensitive to certain air pollutants, avoid participating in strenuous outdoor activities. The Air Quality Index (AQI) is a daily measure of the air quality in an area. Information about the levels of pollutants such as carbon monoxide, fine particles, and ozone is usually included in the report.
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