There are three main types of lung disease, including:

  • Airway diseases: These conditions affect the tubes (or airways) that carry air into and out of the lungs. Diseases such as asthma, emphysema and chronic bronchitis narrow or block these airways, making you feel like you are breathing through a straw.
  • Lung tissue diseases: Diseases such as pulmonary fibrosis and sarcoidosis affect the structure of the lung tissue through inflammation or scarring. Lung tissue changes prevent the lungs from fully expanding, making it hard for you to take a deep breath to take in oxygen or expel carbon dioxide.
  • Lung circulation diseases: These affect the blood vessels in the lungs, caused by inflammation, clotting or scaring of the pulmonary blood vessels. This affects the ability of the lungs to take up oxygen or expel carbon dioxide, and this may also affect the functioning of the heart.

Lung disease can take many forms, including:

Meet the Teams

A physician looks at a pulmonary scan of the lungs.
The Northwestern Medicine Lung Diseases teams provide complete diagnostic and treatment services and facilities for patients with all types of respiratory diseases.

Types of Lung Disease



Related Resources

  • What is Lung Cancer?: Find out more about the two main types of lung cancer and how they can spread.
  • Treatment for COPD: Learn what you can do to minimize your symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.