Monday, October 23, 2017

October is Healthy Lung Month

October is Healthy Lung Month

For many, October is a time for fall activities, football, and Halloween decorations. For some, it is a chance to shed light on the pain and suffering endured by varying diseases susceptible to the lungs. October happens to be healthy lung month. Most often when considering lung diseases people think of lung cancer. While that particular type of cancer is the second most common cancer for both men and women, according to, there are many other lung diseases that are still very relevant.


Asthma causes wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and coughing at night or early in the morning. The asthma symptoms present themselves as asthma attacks, although if you have the disease you have asthma all the time.  Attacks only occur when something bothers your lungs. The most common asthma triggers are tobacco, smoke, dust mites, outdoor air pollution, cockroaches, pets, and mold. Asthma is one of the most common lung diseases that impacts children though it can persist into adulthood. Asthma medications come in two forms - quick relief and long term. The quick relief medicine is taken when an asthma attack occurs; while the long term control medicine ensures that there are fewer and milder attacks. There is no cure for asthma and it is unknown what causes the illness.


Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD, includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. The disease is an umbrella term for progressive lung diseases. In 80 to 90 percent of cases the cause of the disease is smoking though it can be genetic. Second hand smoke, wood smoke and occupational dusts chemicals can also cause the disease. COPD develops slowly over time - most cases are not diagnosed until the patient is over 40 years old. The disease is commonly characterized by increasing breathlessness. COPD affects around 30 million individuals in the United States - half of those have symptoms of COPD and are unaware that they have the disease. Symptoms of the disease include frequent coughing, wheezing, and tightness in the chest. Those that feel they may have symptoms of COPD should seek a medical professional and ask for a spirometry test. The test is used to determine lung capacity by measuring how much air is inhaled, exhaled, and at what speed.


Mesothelioma, or Meso, is a rare form of cancer that develops in the lining of the organs. The cancer can develop in the lungs, heart, abdominal cavity and testicles. The most common form is pleural mesothelioma - which occurs in the lining of the lungs. The only known cause of the cancer is asbestos. When asbestos dust is inhaled it embeds in the lining of the organs where the mesothelioma cancer develops. Pleural mesothelioma accounts for 80 to 90 percent of all diagnosed cases. The symptoms of the disease are specific to where the cancer develops, further complicating the diagnosis process. Most often the disease is misdiagnosed as pneumonia or the flu - an accurate diagnosis is often not reached until the cancer has progressed to the third or fourth stage. At this stage of the illness prognosis is poor - most patients live for 12 to 21 months following diagnosis. Though treatments are advancing, there is currently no cure for mesothelioma.


Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia, more commonly known as PCD is a rare genetic condition. The disease impacts 1 of every 15,000 to 20,000 individuals worldwide. PCD is a genetic mutation that impacts the structure and function of cilia - hairlike structures that line the respiratory system dislodging mucus. PCD inhibits the cilia of accurately cleaning out inhaled particles from the lungs.Those with PCD can also develop chronic ear, sinus, pulmonary disease, reversed or flipped organs and fertility issues. PCD is passed from healthy parents to their children through DNA. Symptoms of PCD progress over time and are worsened by environmental factors - such as smoke.

Air Quality Can help to Improve Lung Function

While these illnesses may not be eradicated by clean air environmental factors - such as the air quality - can impact the severity of symptoms and ease pain. A speck air monitoring system can empower you to take charge of your lung health.

Many thanks to Rachel Lynch from the Mesothelioma Foundation for writing this post!