November 26, 2021


Health Blog

The Difference Between Obstructive And Restrictive Lung Disease

Restrictive Lung Disease

Lung disease is usually classified as obstructive or restrictive. If you are having difficulties exhaling all the air in your lungs, it means that you are suffering from obstructive lung disease. Conversely, if you are having trouble to fully expand your lungs with air, you are suffering from restrictive lung disease. One thing that these two conditions have in common is the symptom; they are both characterized by breath shortness with any kind of physical exertion.

What exactly is obstructive lung disease?

As mentioned above, obstructive lung disease is characterized by breath shortness. This is usually brought about by the difficulty that one experiences in exhaling all the air present in the lungs. As a result, the lungs are damaged in some way and that is why the exhaled air takes too long to be exhaled. Even after a successful completion of the exhalation process, chances are there is a significant amount of air left in your lungs.

What are the causes of obstructive lung disease?

This type of lung condition is usually caused by the following:

  • Asthma
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease like chronic bronchitis and emphysema)
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Bronchiectasis

If you’re diagnosed with this type of lung disease, you will always find it difficult to breathe properly, especially when working out or during a vigorous activity. The main challenge here is to exhale all the air present in the lungs at once. Usually, you will have very little time exhaling all the air out.

What exactly is restrictive lung disease?

When it comes to this type of lung condition, you will experience problems filling your lungs with air if you are diagnosed with this condition. In other words, you will not be able to expand your lungs fully.

What causes restrictive lung disease?

This type of lung disease is usually caused by a condition that makes the lungs stiff and unable to accept air coming in. Conditions such as damaged nerves system, weak muscles, or chest pain may be the reason why you are having problems filling your lungs with air.

Restrictive Lung DiseaseOther possible causes of restrictive lung disease include:

  • Scoliosis
  • Interstitial lung illness like idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis
  • Obesity
  • Sarcoidosis (an autoimmune condition)
  • Neuromuscular conditions like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or muscular dystrophy


If you think that you’re having problems breathing or filing your lungs with air, it’s advisable that you seek immediate medical attention. Do not wait until you’re short of breath; visit your doctor and talk to him or her about your problem.