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Lung Disease & Respiratory Health Center

Obstructive and Restrictive Lung Disease

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Diagnosis of Obstructive Lung Disease and Restrictive Lung Disease continued...

A doctor's interview (including smoking history), physical exam, and lab tests may provide additional clues to the cause of obstructive lung disease or restrictive lung disease.

Imaging tests are almost always part of the diagnosis of restrictive and obstructive lung disease. These include:

  • Chest X-ray film
  • Computed tomography (CT scan) of the chest

In some people, a bronchoscopy may be recommended to diagnose the lung condition causing obstructive or restrictive lung disease. In a bronchoscopy, a doctor uses an endoscope (a flexible tube with a camera and tools on its tip) to look inside the airways and take samples of lung tissue (biopsies).

Symptoms of Obstructive and Restrictive Lung Disease

Obstructive lung disease and restrictive lung disease cause shortness of breath. In early stages of obstructive or restrictive lung disease, shortness of breath occurs only with exertion. If the underlying lung condition progresses, breathlessness may occur with minimal activity, or even at rest.

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.

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