Smoking-LungsPeople with obstructive lung disease have shortness of breath due to difficulty exhaling all the air from the lungs. Because of damage to the lungs or narrowing of the airways inside the lungs, exhaled air comes out more slowly than normal. At the end of a full exhalation, an abnormally high amount of air may still linger in the lungs.

The most common causes of obstructive lung disease are:

  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis
  • Asthma
  • Bronchiectasis
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Obstructive lung disease makes it harder to breathe, especially during increased activity or exertion. As the rate of breathing increases, there is less time to breathe all the air out before the next inhalation.

Cough is a common symptom in restrictive and obstructive lung diseases. Usually, the cough is dry or productive of white sputum. People with chronic bronchitis, a form of obstructive lung disease, may cough up larger amounts of colored sputum.

Symptoms of depression and anxiety are also common among people with obstructive lung disease and restrictive lung disease. These symptoms occur more often when lung disease causes significant limitations in activity and lifestyle.