Some of the most common illnesses in the world affect the lungs and airways, and this is in large part due to factors such as environmental pollution, cigarette smoking, and chemical use in agriculture and manufacturing. As you read about some of the most frequently diagnosed lung diseases below, you may think about ways to clean up the air around you so that your lungs stay strong and healthy for life.
A growing number of children is affected by asthma in the United States, as asthma accounts for the most sick days and visits to the nurse’s office among American students. This condition causes inflammation in the airways that makes it harder to breathe, in some situations leading to asthma attacks that may cause wheezing and shortness of breath. Participating in physical activity may be more of a challenge for individuals with asthma, especially if allergies are also a problem.
COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is characterized by an inability to exhale properly. Emphysema is a common form of COPD in which air is trapped in the lungs. COPD is a serious illness as the third leading cause of death in the U.S. with no known cure.
Most people make a strong association between cigarette smoking and lung cancer, because smoking is the leading risk factor for this often fatal form of cancer. Because there is not a standard screening for lung cancer that is widely used, the disease is often diagnosed late when it has spread to other organs through the lymph system.
Almost everyone is familiar with acute respiratory infections such as influenza and bronchitis, which are generally treated at home with plenty of rest and liquids. However, acute respiratory infections may be a bigger issue for those with existing pulmonary conditions or a higher risk for health complications from conditions affecting the immune system. With flu season right around the corner, it is important to understand your risk for complications so that you can get immunized if necessary.
At Northside Hospital in St. Petersburg, we provide outpatient pulmonary rehabilitation to help our patients move forward after flare ups with chronic lung diseases. To discover how our rehabilitation services may help you, visit our website or call our Consult-A-Nurse healthcare referral line at (888) 598-9586.