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As concerns about COVID-19 persist, respiratory health and how to protect your respiratory system should be a priority. From pneumonia to lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, there are a variety of illnesses beyond the coronavirus that can impact your health.
We’ll examine the most common types of lung diseases and the steps you can take to prevent them.
5 Common Lung Diseases
1. Asthma: This common, chronic respiratory condition causes difficulty in breathing due to inflamed airways. Symptoms typically include a dry cough, wheezing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. This condition usually begins in childhood, but can develop in later life too. Allergies, pollution, and infection are all believed to cause asthma.
2. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): The condition COPD is actually an umbrella term used for a variety of respiratory illnesses that involve airflow blockage and breathing-related problems. Emphysema and chronic bronchitis also fall into the COPD category. In most cases, this disease is linked to smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke. Common COPD symptoms include wheezing, mucus, coughing, and difficulty breathing.
3. Lung cancer: This deadly type of cancer can develop in any part of the lungs. Symptoms can take years to develop making early detection and intervention difficult. When symptoms do occur, the most common include chronic coughing, hoarse voice, and harsh breathing. Like COPD, it is closely linked to smoking or secondhand smoke. It can also be the result of exposure to radon, asbestos, diesel fuel, or pollution.
4. Pneumonia: Caused by an infection in the air sacs in the lungs, this disease can be bacterial, viral, or fungal. Pneumonia occurs most often in younger children or older adults. Fever, chills, coughing, and difficulty breathing are typical signs of pneumonia.
5. Pleural Effusion: This condition is caused by a collection of fluid in the pleural space, which is the area between the lung and the chest wall. It can happen for a variety of reasons, often as a result of pneumonia, cancer, or congestive heart failure. Symptoms include chest pain and shortness of breath. Patients diagnosed with pleural effusion usually undergo a procedure to remove the fluid so the lung can re-expand.
What can you do to keep your respiratory system healthy and avoid one of these conditions? We have some suggestions for you to review and discuss with your physician.
4 Steps to Better Lung Health
1. Avoid exposure to smoke: Whether you are a smoker or spend time with one, exposure to smoke contributes to many types of respiratory problems. Talk with your physician about smoking cessation programs. Ask the smokers in your life to stop or to go outside before they light up.
2. Get vaccines: Having a yearly flu shot is one way to keep your lungs healthy. Another is to talk with your doctor about a pneumonia vaccine. It’s typically recommended for adults age 65 and older. While you won’t need to have this vaccine every year, you may need to repeat it depending upon which type you receive.
3. Exercise: Physical fitness activities also play a role in maintaining respiratory health. Walking, swimming, and other aerobic activity can build lung capacity. This helps move oxygen through your body more efficiently.
4. Watch pollutants: Whether it is indoors or out, be mindful of what you are breathing. Pollution, lawn chemicals, cleaning supplies, and radon are just a few factors that contribute to poor air quality.
We hope this information has been beneficial in learning more about respiratory health and what you can do to protect yourself. You can find more educational articles like this one on the Sunrise Blog. It’s updated frequently throughout the month. Bookmark it and stop back often!