The "airways" are the bronchial tubes that conduct air from the mouth to the alveoli of the lungs where oxygen is taken up into the blood stream and carbon dioxide is removed. Thus the term "airway disease" or "airway condition" refers to a disorder that narrows the airways and interferes with the smooth passage of air in and out of the lungs.
Asthma is marked by recurring episodes of reversible airway narrowing (caused by contraction of muscle in the airway wall, or "bronchospasm") manifested by shortness of breath, cough, wheezing, and chest tightness.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is another name for emphysema and chronic bronchitis, most often (but not always) associated with smoking. COPD is a chronic condition in that the airway narrowing is not fully reversible as it can be in asthma. Patients with mild COPD may experience shortness of breath only in association with respiratory infections or when performing strenuous exercise. Patients with more advanced COPD commonly experience persistent shortness of breath, cough, and frequent sputum or phlegm production.
Cystic Fibrosis is a hereditary disease usually (but not always) apparent in childhood and is marked by recurrent bouts of lung infections, difficulty breathing due to mucus accumulation, faulty digestion, and excessive loss of salt in sweat.
All of these conditions are treatable. Current medical therapy can reverse airway narrowing, improve symptoms and reduce the frequency of attacks. But no known treatment will cure any of these conditions. This is why the Airway Clinical Research Center was created - to develop better therapies, and eventually cures, for these common and important causes of impairment and distress.