Why are lungs important?
Every cell in your body needs oxygen in order to live. The air we breathe contains oxygen and other gases. Once in the lungs, oxygen is moved into the bloodstream and carried through your body. At each cell in your body, oxygen is exchanged for a waste gas called carbon dioxide. Your bloodstream then carries this waste gas back to the lungs where it is removed from the bloodstream and then exhaled. Your lungs and respiratory system automatically perform this vital process, called gas exchange. In addition to gas exchange, your respiratory system performs other roles important to breathing.
- Bringing air to the proper body temperature and moisturizing it to the right humidity level.
- Protecting your body from harmful substances. This is done by coughing, sneezing, filtering or swallowing them.
- Supporting your sense of smell.
What Are The Different Kinds Of Lung Problems?
Asthma, Bronchitis, Chronic cough, Cystic fibrosis, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), Influenza, Interstital lung disease, Lung cancer, Pneumonia, Whooping cough, Pulmonary fibrosis, SARS, and Lung TB are some common lung problems.
Do I Need To Worry About A Cough?
A cough is a spontaneous reflex. When things such as mucus, germs or dust irritate your throat and airways, your body automatically responds by coughing. Similar to other reflexes such as sneezing or blinking, coughing helps protect your body. It can propel air and particles out of your lungs and throat at speeds close to 50 miles per hour. Occasional coughing is normal – even healthy – as it helps clear your throat and airway of germs, mucus and dust. A cough that doesn’t go away or comes with other symptoms like shortness of breath, mucus production or bloody phlegm could be the sign of a more serious medical problem.
What Are Warning Signs Of A Lung Problem?
- Chronic cough, which you have had for eight weeks or longer is an important early symptom that tells you something is wrong with your respiratory system.
- It’s not normal to experience shortness of breath that doesn’t go away after exercising, or that you have after little or no exertion. Labored or difficult breathing—the feeling that it is hard to breathe in out—is also a warning sign.
- Mucus, also called sputum or phlegm, is produced by the airways as a defense against infections or irritants. If your mucus production has lasted a month or longer, this could indicate lung disease.
- Noisy breathing or wheezing is a sign that something unusual is blocking your lungs’ airways or making them too narrow.
- If you are coughing up blood, it may be coming from your lungs or upper respiratory tract. Wherever it’s coming from, it signals a health problem.
- Unexplained chest pain that lasts for a month or more—especially if it gets worse when you breathe in or cough—also is a warning sign.
What Can I Do To reduce My Risk Of Lung Disease?
Don’t smoke: Cigarette smoking is the major cause of lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Cigarette smoke can narrow the air passages and make breathing more difficult. It causes chronic inflammation, or swelling in the lung, which can lead to chronic bronchitis. Over time cigarette smoke destroys lung tissue and may trigger changes that grow into cancer.
Avoid exposure to pollutants: Secondhand smoke, chemicals in the home and workplace can cause or worsen lung disease. Make your home and car smoke-free. Avoid exercising outdoors on ‘bad air days’. Talk to your healthcare provider if you are worried that something in your home or work environment is making you sick.
Prevent infection: A cold or other respiratory infection can sometimes become very serious. There are several things you can do to protect yourself:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. Alcohol-based cleaners are a good substitute if you cannot wash.
- Avoids crowds during the cold and flu season.
- Good oral hygiene can protect you from the germs in your mouth leading to infections. Brush your teeth at least twice daily and see your dentist at least every six months.
- If you get sick, keep it to yourself! Protect the people around you, including your loved ones, by keeping your distance. Stay home from work or school until you’re feeling better.
- Regular check-ups help prevent diseases, even when you are feeling well. This is especially true for lung disease, which sometimes goes undetected until it is serious.
Exercise: Whether you are young or old, slender or large, able-bodied or living with a chronic illness or disability, being physically active can help keep your lungs healthy.
Content source: Lung.org