How healthy are your lungs?

How healthy are your lungs?

More than 50% of Australians* rarely or never think about the health of their lungs. Considering that we take approximately 22,000 breaths per day, protecting our lung health is important.

The month of November is Lung Health Awareness. With approximately 2.6 million cases of lung disease reported each year, and with 1 in 7 adults dying from lung disease in Australia, Australians are encouraged to take the health of their lungs seriously.

What are the symptoms of lung disease?

Signs that you may be suffering from lung illness, include shortness of breath, a chronic cough that won’t go away or gets worse, chest pain or tightness, wheezing, coughing up blood or phlegm, chronic pneumonia and fatigue.

Examples of the types of lung disease include:

  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • chronic bronchitis
  • emphysema
  • asthma
  • interstitial lung diseases
  • bronchiectasis
  • lung cancer

Lung disease can affect young and old. It can affect both sexes as well as smokers, ex-smokers and never smokers… However, most of it is undiagnosed, as people are either not aware of the symptoms, choose to ignore it, or they accept the symptoms as part of ageing…

World COPD Day is on Wednesday 18 November.  COPD is a long-term disease of the lungs which causes shortness of breath and affects 1 in 7 Australians aged 40 years or over, and is the second leading cause of avoidable hospital admissions.

The day aims to raise awareness about the symptoms of COPD and highlight the resources available to support patients and their caregivers.

What causes chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)?

The single largest cause and risk factor for COPD (which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema), is cigarette smoking.

Other lifestyle risk factors include exposure to air pollution, chemicals, dust and fumes, as well as exposure to secondhand smoking.

With 7,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, many of these chemicals cause direct damage to the lung tissue. Smoking damages the air sacs in the lungs and over time leads to a loss of lung function. Smoking also affects the immune system causing the lungs to become inflamed.

Over time and with continued smoking, COPD gets worse, where for some sufferers, even routine activities such as walking or dressing can be difficult.

There is no cure for COPD – the damage to the lungs is permanent. COPD is a slow debilitating disease and can cause years of suffering…

What can you do to reduce your risk of COPD?

If you are concerned about developing COPD, you can take some steps today to protect yourself.

  1. Quit smoking
  2. Avoid exposure to secondhand smoking
  3. Protect yourself from other chemicals, dust and fumes

Want to know whether your lungs are healthy?

The Lung Foundation Australia has developed an interactive lung health checklist. To check whether your lungs are healthy, fill out the short quiz. Some of the questions include whether you have a persistent cough, get out of breath more easily and whether you have frequent chest infections…

For further information on COPD, visit the Lung Foundation Australia.

We hope you enjoyed this article and until next time wishing you all great health and wellbeing!

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REFERENCES:
* Lung Foundation Australia. www.worldcopddaylungfoundation.com.au

Lung Disease in Australia (2014). Woolcock Institute of Medical Research.

Greenhalgh, EM, Scollo, MM & Winstanley (2020). Tobacco in Australia: Facts and issues. Melbourne: Cancer Council Victoria. www.TobaccoInAustralia.org.au.

Page A, Ambrose S, Glover J et al (2007). Atlas of Avoidable Hospitalisations in Australia: ambulatory care-sensitive conditions. Adelaide PHIDU. University of Adelaide. 

By |November 18th, 2020|Behaviour Change, Health & Wellbeing, Smoking|

About the Author:

Stavroula Zandes
Stavroula Zandes is the founder of Health & Wellbeing Training Consultants Pty Ltd, a training business specialising in positive behaviour change. She has a particular passion and expertise for smoking cessation bringing with her 20 years of experience, which she gained working with Quit Victoria (Cancer Council Victoria) in a range of roles. Stav has a background in psychology and counselling and her expertise covers a wide range of industries. She provides education and training on a number of lifestyle topics, for health and community professionals, workplaces, schools and community groups. Stav is committed to engaging, motivating and encouraging staff and their clients to find the inspiration they need; to be empowered to make positive behaviour changes that will improve and enrich their lives. Stav’s favourite quote is by Walt Disney, "The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing." View full staff profiles here.

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