In a year when the world has been locked down due to the outbreak of respiratory disease, we must take extra care of our lung health. Before we understand how the coronavirus affects us, it is important to also recognize other lung diseases to not confuse them with COVID-19. Here, we will discuss the same aspects and give you a vivid idea of how to manage your lung health.
The pair of lungs you have are a part of the respiratory system of your body. The respiratory system is a combination of several tissues and organs that work in tandem to help you breathe and survive. If for some reason, your respiratory system stops working, you will immediately die. Lungs are an essential part of your respiratory system. It helps you to push in fresh oxygen and push out carbon dioxide and other harmful gases. Lungs are an integral part of our body, and preventing it from lung disease symptoms is very important. Today we will learn about different ways your lungs could be at risk and how to prevent them.
Why you need to prevent lower respiratory diseases
Everybody knows that we humans and other animals need oxygen to live. All of the cells in our body need oxygen to function, to operate. The air we breathe in contains oxygen, which, with the help of our nose, reaches the lungs. Now what the lungs do is that it transfers the oxygen into the bloodstream, carried throughout your body. The blood cells in the bloodstream take in the oxygen and release carbon dioxide, which is then carried back to the lungs. Then the lungs exhale out the carbon dioxide. Now, this gas exchange is carried out by our respiratory system, and our lungs are very vital for our survival. Without this gas exchange, we will not be able to survive. Although that is not the only function which our lungs do. There are also other essential functions which your lungs perform day in day out automatically, like:
- When your lungs inhale air, apart from transferring oxygen into the bloodstream, it also regulates the air’s temperature inhaled. The lungs also govern the moisture level of the air by adding more moisture if required.
- Lungs also protect your body against germs, viruses, and other microorganisms that can harm you or cause lung diseases. The lungs do this by sneezing, coughing, swallowing, or filtering them.
- The lungs also help you with your sense of smell.
These are the reasons why you need to maintain lung health by making lifestyle changes and prevent severe conditions – even coronavirus infection!
Understanding the Respiratory System
Before we learn more about our lungs and various lung diseases, let us learn how our respiratory system works and its different parts:
These are located above your eyes and below your eyes in the bones. These are hollow spaces located inside the bones. What they do is help regulate the humidity and temperature of the air which you inhale.
The preferred entrance for air to enter your body, the nose is an essential part of your respiratory system. Moreover, your nose has hair linings inside it to filter the air and keep out any germs that might enter.
Another entrance for air to enter your body; many people preferred to breathe in through their mouths. Although it must be noted, our mouths do not have hair linings; hence there is no way for germs to be filtered out. So it is always preferred that you breathe through your nose.
What your throat does is take all the air coming from your mouth or nose and transfer it down the windpipe or trachea.
Also known as the trachea, it is an area that lies in between your throat and lungs.
The windpipe leading into your lungs gets divided into two bronchial tubes, one for each of your lungs. The moment the bronchial tubes enter your lungs, it is further divided into multiple bronchioles, one for each lobe inside your lungs.
Your Ribs protect most of your respiratory system. When you breathe in and out, the ribs also move to make space for the lungs.
This is a significant part of your respiratory system. The diaphragm is a wall made up of muscle that separates your abdominal cavity and your chest. The diaphragm moves downward and upwards to help draw air in and out of your chest.
Common Types of Lung Diseases
It is a big misconception that when it comes to chronic lung diseases, the only disease that matters is Lung cancer. Many different lung diseases can be chronic and life-threatening. Here is a list of chronic lung diseases which might cause you health problems:
It is a widespread lung disease. If you have Asthma, your lungs will become narrow and swollen. This will reduce your capacity to breathe correctly. Some of the common symptoms are:
- When you suddenly feel you cannot breathe properly or take in the right amount of air
- At the time you wheeze a lot
- Times when you cough a lot
- At the time, there is a sudden feeling of tightness within your chest
You might be triggered by dust, stress, allergens, pollution, and exercise. It starts affecting a person since childhood. Although in some cases it might start later. Asthma is something that cannot be cured. There are certain medicines which help to reduce the symptoms. If you feel any of the symptoms, you must go to a doctor immediately.
If you have Asthma with proper medications, you can live a normal healthy life. However, a certain percentage of people die because of Asthma. Genetics can play a certain role in your having Asthma. So if someone with whom you are related blood wise has Asthma, you might too.
Other reasons as to why you can have Asthma is:
- When you are overweight
- If you smoke a lot
- When you have allergies
- If you are exposed to pollutants a lot
This is a lung disease where your lungs get so inflamed that it makes breathing very difficult. Other than creating breathing problems, this inflammation also makes the linings of your lungs thicker than usual, and there is also a sudden increase in the production of mucus. Overall your lungs become inept in bringing enough oxygen in with sending out carbon dioxide.
People suffering from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or COPD usually have either of following mentioned conditions or both:
What this condition does is that it slowly damages your lungs’ air sacs. When in a normal and healthy condition, air sac is very flexible and strong. On the other hand, under the influence of this condition, the air sacs become weak and soon rupture. The following symptoms can be seen if you have this condition:
- A lot of Wheezing
- The feeling that you are breathing but somehow not enough
The Chronic Bronchitis condition increases the production of mucus in the lungs. This condition is very dangerous because once you have it, it will never go away. This condition is different from natural bronchitis, which occurs when people have a cold or maybe even Sinus. Chronic Bronchitis symptoms include:
- Coughing a lot and coughing out mucus
- Your chest will feel very tight
- You might also feel that you cannot breathe properly.
The symptoms related to COPD can worsen with time, and it is an incurable disease. Although with proper medications, the symptoms can be brought in control. Smoking is one of the biggest reasons as to why one can have COPD. You can also have COPD if your family has a history of it.
Interstitial Lung illness
Almost around 200 lung diseases can be listed under interstitial this disease. Diseases like Langerhans histiocytosis of cell, sarcoidosis, and bronchiolitis obliterans are diseases. That can be put under the category of Interstitial Lung disease. Even though there are different diseases under this bracket, almost all of them have the same symptoms. Space, which is present between air sacs in lungs called the interstitium develops scar tissues. What this scarring does to your lungs is that it makes them rigid, making them less flexible; hence, the expansion and contraction required for breathing become limited.
Although incurable, medication nowadays can reduce the progression of this disease. You will be at risk of coming in contact with this disease if smoke a lot. This disease is also passed down generation to generation; basically, it is hereditary. If you are in a polluted environment or have been taking gin radiation to treat cancer, you might have this disease.
Some of the common symptoms are:
- Difficulty in breathing
- Difficulty to take in enough air
- Cough but dry
It is a disease that is the increase in BP in your heart and lungs. What happens in this disease is that the blood vessels in your heart and lungs get narrow and thick. And as a result, your heart needs hard work to pump blood to the rest of your body. This forceful pumping of blood increases the pressure in the capillaries and arteries of your lungs. If this disease is left untreated, it could result in death.
The following conditions can increase the risk of having pulmonary hypertension:
- When you are overweight
- This disease is hereditary. Hence if anyone in your family had this before, there are chances you might have it too.
- If you have other lung diseases
- When you use illegal drugs which are harmful to your health
- If you are taking various harmful medications. For example, weight loss medications.
This disease cannot be healed, but medications can increase your lifespan by a lot. Sometimes the only resort to this disease is surgery. Other than surgery, diuretics, blood thinners, can also be used.
Now regarding symptoms, these are the following symptoms:
- Chest pain is one of the common symptoms
- Feeling fatigued
- Unable to breathe properly
- Increased heart rate to push the blood through your arteries and capillaries
- Ankle swelling is also called edema.
This is a condition that is hereditary and affects children soon after their birth. In this condition, the mucus produced in a child’s body is thick, excessive, and sticky, whereas it should be watery and slippery. As a result, this mucus gets stored in the lungs and makes it difficult for the child to breathe. The stored mucus also increases the rate of bacterial infection. The symptoms which are seen in an infant are as follows:
- A lot of Wheezing
- Unable to breathe
- A lot of coughing
- Chest cold which keeps on coming back
- The sweat produced is very salty
- Sinus infections
Since no treatment for this disease, doctors check for this disease after every child is born. In case this disease is seen, immediate precautions are taken.
In Chronic pneumonia, microorganisms, bacteria, viruses, and other disease-causing germs start growing inside your lungs and thrive. Other than this, air sacs inside your lungs also get inflamed and get filled with fluid. As a result, the normal flow of the oxygen gets disturbed. People usually recover without much medication, but sometimes this disease can linger and get life-threatening.
The most probable cause if pneumonia can be listed as follows:
- If you have a fragile immune system, and hence your body cannot fight against the growth of various bacteria and viruses.
- When you smoke a lot
- If you already have some other illness
- If you recently had a surgery
Usually, with proper medication, rest, and time, you can be healed of pneumonia. But sometimes the disease might come back, making it chronic disease. The symptoms of Pneumonia becoming chronic are:
- Coughing blood
- Fever which does not go away
- Lymph nodes are swollen
If the symptoms do not go away by medication, even after using antibiotics, you might need to get hospitalized to get the proper care and medicines.
This is a new disease that has brought the whole world into a standstill. This disease has no cure yet, and the only way you can be cured is if your immune system can fight against it. The following are the symptoms of Covid-19:
- Dry Cough
- Unable to breathe
- Lack of smell or taste
- Body ache
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
Since this disease has no cure, it is imperative that you always wear a mask and regularly wash your hands. It is also essential to maintain social distance and stay inside your home whenever possible.
Lung disease treatment with simple tips
- Do not smoke at all as lung diseases caused by smoking are not just harmful but killing
- Exercise everyday
- Eat green vegetables and other healthy foods
- Wash hands regularly with soap and or use hand sanitizer
- Have regular checkups.
There are a lot of lung diseases, and none can be taken lightly. You must take good care of your lungs and eat healthy food to keep your immunity strong.