Imagine for a moment having trouble breathing or feeling significant pain when you inhale or exhale. Imagine feeling like you cannot get enough oxygen in your body no matter how deeply you inhale. Unfortunately, lung diseases that cause such concerns are much more common than most of us realize. More than 3 million people die each year from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease alone. Additionally, 235 million people suffer from asthma, a common lung disease that is often diagnosed in children. Lung health is essential all year around, but the week of October 21- 27 is dedicated to promoting it and protecting it for Respiratory Care Week.
The week gives us an opportunity to celebrate each breath and to consider making changes to our lifestyles in order to keep lung-related illnesses at bay. Unless we choose to smoke, or if we are exposed to significant pollution, we may not give much thought to our lungs. Interestingly enough, it’s one of the few organs that constantly gives us a reminder of its existence: we breathe to inhale oxygen into our lungs and exhale carbon dioxide every minute of every day. Even so, most of us take our lung health for granted.
So what can you do to care for your lungs and those of loved ones? Let’s look at some common types of lung disease and 5 steps you can take today to better care for your lungs.
Common lung diseases
Some of the most common lung diseases include:
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD)
COPD is an obstructive inflammation of the bronchial tubes and chronic emphysema. It’s a progressive disease that limits airflow into and out of the lungs due to irritation, thickening and scarring. Additionally, the walls of the air sacs often break down, causing less oxygen to travel in the blood.