Restrictive VS Obstructive lung diseases

Restrictive VS Obstructive lung diseases

Obstructive lung disease includes conditions that hinder a person’s ability to exhale all the air from their lungs. Those with restrictive lung disease experience difficulty fully expanding their lungs. Obstructive and restrictive lung disease share one main symptom–shortness of breath with any sort of physical exertion. Here’s what you need to know about the difference between obstructive and restrictive lung disease.

Obstructive Lung Diseases

Obstructive lung disease and its characteristic narrowing of pulmonary airways hinder a person’s ability to completely expel air from the lungs. The practical result is that by the end of every breath, quite a bit of air remains in the lungs. Some common conditions related to obstructive lung disease include:

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which encompasses emphysema and chronic bronchitis



Cystic Fibrosis

Obstructive lung disease makes breathing especially harder during increased activity or exertion. Exhalations take longer with obstructive lung disease, so that as the rate of breathing increases and the lungs work harder, the amount of fresh air circulated into the lungs, and spent air circulated out, decreases.

Restrictive Lung Diseases

The Difference Between Obstructive & Restrictive Lung Disease

People suffering from restrictive lung disease have a hard time fully expanding their lungs when they inhale. That is, it’s more difficult to fill lungs with air. This is a result of the lungs being restricted from fully expanding. This can occur when tissue in the chest wall becomes stiffened, or due to weakened muscles or damaged nerves. Any of these factors can restrict the expansion of the lungs. Some of the conditions classified as restrictive lung disease include:

Interstitial lung disease


Neuromuscular disease, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)

Pulmonary fibrosis



The severity of most lung diseases is tested by using a pulmonary function test. Obstructive and restrictive lung diseases can cause shortness of breath, severe coughing and chest pain.