Breathe in and breathe out. It’s simple right? Your lungs work every day without much thinking involved. However, lung cancer, heart disease and even anxiety can make this otherwise thoughtless process become difficult and frustrating.
While it can be easy to blame tobacco as being the only offender for lung-related illnesses, problems can arise from many complications unrelated to smoking.
In this blog, we’re going to explain the various types of lung diseases, outline the warning signs and give strategies to reduce your risks of developing serious diseases.
6 Types of Lung Diseases
Lung disease isn’t a singular diagnosis. It covers a wide range of ailments ranging from asthma to cancer. Each has their own unique signs, but they all interfere with your normal breathing.
Asthma is a chronic irritation of the airways inside the lungs known as bronchial tubes. This irritation causes the airways to constrict, making breathing difficult. In extreme cases, they can prevent breathing altogether.
Pneumonia is an infection of the lungs usually caused by a virus or bacteria typically related to illnesses like influenza. This disease can hospitalize some of the most vulnerable people in the community such as children or the elderly, but it can be dangerous for anyone if not treated immediately.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is an overall term for chronic obstructive bronchitis and emphysema which are diseases that inflame the bronchial tubes in the lungs. As the disease progresses, healthy lung tissue is replaced with scar tissue, causing the body to become starved for oxygen.
Pulmonary fibrosis is advanced scarring of the lung tissue. Typically, it is caused by micro irritants like fine dust, asbestos particles, coal dust, or animal waste.
Pulmonary Vascular Disease refers to damage to the blood vessels leading to or from the lungs.
Lung Cancer is a scary word, but with careful consideration, it is manageable. The most common is non-small cell lung cancer, and it is a slow spreading disease. Conversely, albeit rarer, is the fast-spreading small cell lung cancer.
Heart disease can also affect the lungs. If your body isn’t managing its water retention, you could have shortness of breath. Anxiety can also lead to shortness of breath.
The warning signs for lung disease can vary from an occasional cough, to chronic pain and severe difficulty breathing during your daily routine.
While each type of lung disease has its own unique characteristics, they do have a few things in common. Many diseases start with a cough and develop into more debilitating symptoms.
The warning signs you should be aware of are:
- Chest Pain
- Chronic Shortness of Breath
- Constant Cough
- Chronic Mucus Production
- Coughing Up Blood
How to Reduce Your Risk for Developing Lung Disease
While it isn’t possible to guarantee you can avoid serious lung diseases in your life, you can take steps to reduce your risk.
1. Stop Smoking
We started this blog by telling you tobacco wasn’t the only concern related developing lung disease, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t better to quit sooner rather than later. Stopping smoking will help cut down on the chances you develop lung disease. There are plenty of local and national programs to help you break the habit. 1-800-QUIT-NOW can connect you with helpful resources.
2. Avoid Smoking Areas
If you don't smoke, but you are around people who do, you are still at risk to develop lung disease ranging from asthma to lung cancer. Remove yourself from those areas or situations whenever possible, and help those you love and care for quit their own habits if you can.
3. Practice Healthy Hygiene Habits
Healthy hygiene can help mitigate illness that leads to lung disease. If you are around others who are sick, you can wear a face mask to help reduce the risk of infection. Wash your hands and cover any cough you may have to help prevent the spread of illness if you get a cold.
4. Get Vaccinated
Vaccines are safe for most people, and it is recommended that if you are around more vulnerable members of the community who can't get vaccinated, then you should receive your annual flu shot.
5. Clean Your Home
Keeping a clean home can help reduce the risk of lung diseases caused by aerial irritants. Dusting the floorboards, vacuuming floors, changing filters, cleaning up any wet spots and cleaning out the air ducts can reduce the number of possible irritants that exasperate lung disease. It may also be helpful to check your home for radon as well.
6. Talk to Your Doctor
Speaking with your doctor is the best way to learn more about your health. Odds are, minor warning signs like a cough and shortness of breath aren't a serious health risk.
We recommend proactive measures to determine the health of your lungs. A heart and lung scan will give you an in-depth examination to determine if you have any concerning issues even before you experience your first symptom.
If you want to learn more about lung disease, download our free ebook on Understanding Lung Cancer. As always, you can contact Advanced Body Scan of Tulsa to set up an appointment for your heart and lung scan. Take the steps necessary to ensure your good health.