Health

Lung Health: Common Breathing Problems and How to Breathe Better

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Lung health is extremely important, but not many people take it too seriously. Breathing problems are very common around the world, and the majority of them can be prevented with a few lifestyle changes. Here’s a list of some of the most common breathing problems/illnesses that cause breathing problems and how to prevent these problems and help make breathing easier.

#1: Asthma

Asthma is one of the most common respiratory conditions, and it’s when the airways become inflamed and make it hard to breathe. It’s most often diagnosed at a young age, but senior citizens can get diagnosed with adult-onset asthma. Research has shown that there is a strong link between asthma and environmental allergies, as they have been known to trigger attacks.

Unfortunately, asthma can’t be prevented, but it can be treated effectively and asthma sufferers can lead normal lives. Asthma attacks are best treated with inhalers and anti-inflammatory medications, both of which allow those with asthma to breathe better.

#2: COPD

COPD stands for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, and it’s an umbrella term for a variety of chronic lung conditions. It’s most often caused by smoking, but those who haven’t smoked can still develop it if they’re exposed to harmful substances in the environment. Two of the most common lung diseases associated with COPD are:

  1. Chronic bronchitis, a chronic cough
  2. Emphysema, difficulty breathing

For the majority of people, COPD can be prevented by not smoking or by stopping the habit. On the other hand, COPD is not reversible, so if you have the disease it won’t go away. The good news is that there are effective medications that help open up the airways to make breathing easier. A physician-approved exercise regimen is also helpful for those suffering from COPD.

#3: Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is the most fatal cancer that occurs in both men and women. Its progression can be slow or rapid, and symptoms may not appear for a while. Smoking is the number one cause of lung cancer, but it can also be caused by exposure to:

  • Air pollution
  • Asbestos
  • Cigarette smoke (secondhand)
  • Diesel fumes
  • Radiation
  • Radon 

The best way to prevent lung cancer is to stop smoking immediately, or never start to begin with. Also, most workplaces that expose workers to harmful chemicals require equipment that protects their respiratory system, so it’s important that these workers wear these items properly and at all times.

#4: Pneumonia

Pneumonia is caused by a bacterial, fungal, or viral infection of the air sacs. For many people, pneumonia isn’t life-threatening and recovery happens in less than a month. On the other hand, young children, elderly adults, and those with compromised immune systems can become seriously ill from pneumonia.

Fortunately, pneumonia can be prevented by people of all ages. Here are the best ways to prevent pneumonia:

  • Don’t smoke
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Get a flu shot/pneumonia vaccine
  • Manage your weight properly
  • Wash your hands

#5: Other Lung/Breathing Problems

COVID-19

COVID-19 is from a family of viruses (coronavirus), and it’s still a relatively new disease. This means that much is known about the diseases listed above because they’ve been around longer to be studied, while COVID-19 is still being studied. What’s even more tricky is that symptoms can be different for every person, with some showing no symptoms to others requiring hospitalization.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is referred to as a sleeping disorder, but it’s a sleeping disorder that affects breathing. During sleep, a person with sleep apnea will stop breathing. Treatment of sleep apnea includes the use of a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine at night, but certain CPAP models have been recalled to the machine emitting formaldehyde.

Sleep apnea can be prevented by maintaining a healthy weight, though some may still be at risk if they have a family history of sleep apnea. Unfortunately, sleep apnea can’t be reversed once you have it.

One more thing to note is indoor air quality, or IAQ. The quality of the air inside and around a building is essential to lung health and proper breathing. IAQ is important for both those with and without breathing problems. Make sure your home is tented for common indoor air pollutants, and make use of indoor plants to help clean the air.

Overall, not smoking, eating healthy, and exercising regularly are good ways to ensure better lung health. It’s also helpful to get vaccinated against the flu, pneumonia, and other illnesses to ensure that your lungs don’t become infected.

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