Healthy Lung Month is observed every October to raise awareness for various lung diseases. Lung disease and disorders are any issues that cause the lungs to not function properly. With lung disease on the rise, it is the third leading cause of death in the United States and accounts for one in every seven deaths.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease is one of the biggest issues that Americans face today.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
COPD encompasses emphysema and/or chronic bronchitis. Each year, about 10 million adults are diagnosed with bronchitis each year, and 4.7 million are diagnosed with emphysema. Both of these conditions block airflow which can make breathing difficult.
Bronchitis occurs when the air pathways in the lungs become inflamed. Bronchial inflammation causes excess mucus to be produced. The high mucus levels provoke coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. It is a long-term condition that may keep coming back, or in severe cases, may never disappear completely.
Chronic bronchitis primarily affects people over the age of 45, and risk of developing this issue rises each year.
Emphysema damages the air sacs in your lungs. The inner walls of the air sacs are weakened and can rupture. This reduces the surface area of the lungs, and as a result, reduces the amount of oxygen that the body receives. People who have emphysema often complain of shortness of breath, especially during exercise. Like bronchitis, the issue can’t be cured, but treatments are available to relieve symptoms.
Almost all cases of emphysema are seen in people over the age of 45.
Steps to Avoid Lung Issues
Steps can be taken and lifestyle choices can be made to decrease your chances of developing Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.
- Stop Smoking – Quitting smoking cigarettes and marijuana are the biggest steps that a person can take to decrease their COPD risk. Cigarette smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals, some of which negatively affect your lungs and airways in the long and short-term.
- Avoid Pollution When Possible – Pollution doesn’t just come from car exhaust and factories. There can be pollution in and around your home. Replace your HVAC filters regularly, and put plants inside and outside of your home. Plants can help to purify the air by removing toxins.
- Test for Radon – Radon is an odorless gas that can only be found with a special radon detector. These devices can be plugged into your home and will work like a smoke detector. Next to smoking, radon gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States.
- Know Your Family History – If your family has a history of chronic bronchitis or emphysema, you may be more at risk of developing these issues.
Visit Your Doctor
If you have noticed shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, or any other issues related to your lungs, it may be time to visit a doctor. If you’d like to talk to a specialist, please call The Bethencourt Group at (657) 241-9440.