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WHEN BREATHING IS HARD WORK. The first sign that something’s wrong with our respiratory system may be a chronic cough, shortness of breath, excess mucus, wheezing, chronic chest pain or even coughing up blood. Over time, the risks add up and can trigger even more significant respiratory disease. The Lung Association has been researching lung conditions for over a century. In this section you will find lots of relevant Information on different lung ailments, including asthma, COPD, lung cancer and IPF.

How your lungs work

The respiratory system is a group of organs and tissues, including the lungs, that work together to help you breathe.

Warning signs of lung disease

Respiratory disease may be easy to overlook—or you may think shortness of breath is a normal part of aging. But a nagging cough, shortness of breath, excess mucus or wheezing could be an early sign of lung disease.


Asthma is a condition that affects millions of people, including 13% of Canadian kids. People with asthma may cough, wheeze, or have trouble breathing.


COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), is the name for a group of lung diseases where people have difficulty breathing because their airways have been narrowed.

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is a term used to describe the growth of abnormal cells inside the lung. These rogue cells take over and compromise the ability of the lung to supply oxygen. Although it’s often called “the smoker’s disease”, one in eight patients have never smoked.


IPF (Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis) causes scar tissue (fibrosis) to form in the lungs, making them thick and hard. Because the lungs become stiff and cannot take in enough oxygen, people with IPF find themselves out of breath just doing simple tasks like walking or hanging up laundry.

Flu and pneumonia

Flu and Pneumonia have some symptoms in common such as cough, fever, sweats, chills and feeling unwell. But there are distinct differences. People who live with other lung conditions are at an increased risk of developing these illnesses.


Spread from person to person through the air, tuberculosis (TB) usually infects the lungs but it can also attack other parts of the body.

Lung Disease A-Z

Lung disease doesn’t play favourites. It affects men, women, children, smokers, non-smokers and individuals who have never smoked. If lung disease is taking your breath, you do not have to deal with it alone. The Lung Association is here to help. Explore this list of breathing disorders with information on symptoms, causes, treatment and management.