Overview - Lung Conditions

Lung conditions

A variety of different conditions can affect the lungs. While some are inherited, many are preventable and are caused by factors such as smoking, allergies and infection. The good news is that, with the right treatment, you can manage your lung condition. 

If you’re displaying signs and symptoms of lung disease, your doctor will order tests to diagnose your condition. You’ll then be given a personalised treatment plan which may include one or more procedures or surgical treatments.

After your treatments, you’ll get tools and resources to help you improve your symptoms and reduce your risk of further lung 'flare ups'. A large part of this includes lifestyle changes such as exercising, quitting smoking and taking any prescribed medications. Committing to these steps will help you recover well and reduce your risk of further complications.

Types of lung conditions

ARDS (Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome)

Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a severe condition. Resulting in life threatening impairment of lung function and oxygen levels, ARDS can come on suddenly and progress rapidly.

Find out more about ARDS.


Asbestosis is a serious lung disease that develops in people who have been exposed to asbestos for a long time.

Find out more about asbestosis.


Asthma is a lung disease in which the airways are more “twitchy” than usual.

Find out more about asthma.


Bronchiectasis is a condition in which the airways become enlarged. People with bronchiectasis may also have other health conditions. One common factor in people with bronchiectasis is thought to be chronic infection and inflammation of the airways due to bacteria. A bacterial infection can cause the airways to get bigger and accumulate ‘pockets’ of mucus.

Find out more about bronchiectasis.

COPD (Chronic Obstructive Airways Disease)

COPD stands for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. COPD refers to two types of lung disease:

  1. Chronic bronchitis – when the airways (the tubes that carry air into and out of your lungs) become partly blocked from swelling or mucus, and you cough up phlegm
  2. Emphysema – when the air sacs which exchange gases at the end of your airways become damaged and enlarged, making it difficult to breathe.

When you have COPD, your airways become swollen and sometimes they get clogged with mucus. You can't get enough fresh oxygen with each breath. You also find it difficult to push out the air.

Find out more about COPD.

CF (Cystic Fibrosis)

Cystic fibrosis (CF) is one of the most common serious genetic conditions which affects about 1 in 1600 people at birth. CF can affect almost every body system and is associated with a reduced lifespan, though this is improving with recent advances in medical care.

Find out more about CF.

ILD (Interstitial Lung Disease)

Interstitial lung disease (ILD) is the name for more than 200 lung disorders that affect the interstitium, the tissue and space around the alveoli (air sacs). 

Find out more about ILD.

LAM (Lymphangioleiomyomatosis)

LAM is a rare form of low-grade cancer. Low-grade cancer cells look more like normal cells under a microscope, and they often grow and spread slowly. In LAM, myofibroblasts (muscle and fibrous tissue cells) move from the uterus through the lymph channels to other organs such as the lung and abdominal lymph nodes. LAM occurs in people who have a gene mutation of the TSC2 gene. The hormone oestrogen promotes the growth of LAM cells.

Find out more about LAM.

Lung Cancer

Finding out you have lung cancer can be scary and overwhelming. We want you to know that you are not alone, and that there are resources to help you cope and learn about your disease. Lung cancer is a type of cancer that starts in your lungs and can spread to other parts of your body.

Find out more about lung cancer.

Mediastinal Tumours

Mediastinal tumours are a rare type of tumour that develops in the mediastinum. These tumours can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancer-causing).

Find out more about mediastinal tumours.


Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that develops in the tissue that lines the organs, such as the lungs, called the mesothelium.

Find out more about mesothelioma.

PE (Pulmonary Embolism)

A pulmonary embolism is a type of blood clot that is found in your lungs.

Find out more about PE.

Pleural Effusion

A pleural effusion is an excess amount of fluid around the lungs.

Find out more about pleural effusions.


Pneumonia results from an infection which causes the air sacs (alveoli) in the lungs to become filled with fluid or pus.

Find out more about pneumonia.


A pneumothorax is where the lung has collapsed due to air entering the space around your lungs (known as the pleural space). Air can enter the pleural space through an opening in your chest wall or in the lung. The air in the pleural space creates an increase in pressure around the lung and causes it to collapse. 

Find out more about pneumothorax.

Pulmonary Hypertension

Pulmonary hypertension is a type of high blood pressure affecting the arteries that supply blood to your lungs.

Find out more about pulmonary hypertension.

Pulmonary Oedema

Pulmonary oedema is a build up of fluid in the lungs. People who have pulmonary oedema are unable to breathe properly because fluid fills their air sacs (alveoli). As a result, oxygen does not get into the blood and the body can’t get rid of carbon dioxide. Pulmonary oedema that comes on suddenly is a medical emergency.

Find out more about pulmonary oedema.

Respiratory Viruses

Respiratory viruses affect your breathing passages, causing cold and flu-like symptoms as well as shortness of breath and pneumonia.

Find out more about respiratory viruses.


Silicosis is a lung disease caused by breathing in tiny particles of silica, called crystalline silica.

Find out more about silicosis.

Sleep Disorders

A sleep disorder is a condition that stops you getting quality sleep at night.

Find out more about sleep disorders.

TB (Tuberculosis)

Tuberculosis (TB) is a contagious infectious disease which can be life-threatening. TB affects the lungs and other parts of the body. Tuberculosis can either be an inactive infection (or latent) or an active disease.

Find out more about TB.