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Respiratory Disorder (Asthma, COPD, Emphysema)

Respiratory disorders are conditions that affect the pulmonary system and impact students' ability to breathe effectively. Depending on the type of lung disease, symptoms can consist of wheezing, inability to take a deep breath, inability to exhale fully, or chronic coughing.
Respiratory disorders include chronic lung disorders (e.g. asthma, bronchitis), chronic sinus infections, and occupational lung diseases (e.g. asbestosis). Symptoms vary depending on the type of respiratory disorder but may include wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing, chest pain or tightness, runny nose, and fatigue. The most common chronic respiratory disorders are chronic sinusitis, chronic bronchitis, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and emphysema. Respiratory disorders can impact more than just breathing, as lack of oxygen can impair students' energy, ability to concentrate, and physical endurance.

Observing Respiratory Disorder (Asthma, COPD, Emphysema) in the Classroom

Faculty might observe the following characteristics in students with respiratory disorders:

  • Might be absent more frequently than other students
  • Might use an inhaler or supplemental oxygen
  • Might have difficulty with stairs or vigorous physical activity
  • May need to avoid contracting colds or viruses


Related Functional Characteristics

Allergies : Respiratory disorders are often triggered by environmental, pollen or food allergies.

Breathing Difficulty : Students with respiratory conditions such as asthma or emphysema are sensitive to cold, humidity and chemicals.

Chemical Sensitivity : Low levels of certain chemicals (e.g. bleach, pesticides) or exhaust fumes can trigger breathing difficulty in students with respiratory disorders as their lungs have been scarred and are more sensitive.

Climate Sensitivity : High humidity and extreme cold cause difficulty for students with respiratory disorders.

Fatigue (Physical) : Students with a respiratory disorder may experience physical fatigue due to sufficient oxygen intake.

Susceptibility to Infection : Students who have respiratory disorders are vulnerable to infection and viruses especially of the respiratory system.

The Building Accepting Campus Communities (BACC) project was funded by the US Department of Education Office of Secondary Education grant #P333A080070-09. The University of Nebraska does not discriminate based on gender, age, disability, race, color, religion, marital status, veteran's status, national or ethnic origin, or sexual orientation.