By Diane Forrest, RN
The other day I was talking to my father's former secretary. She had recently moved out of state, so I wanted to catch up to see how things were going. Things were not going well for her, she had developed COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) and Emphysema. I could tell as she was talking to me how short of breath she was getting, and she had a frequent cough. As she talked about her treatment and medications she realized that this condition was not totally unexpected. She has been a heavy smoker for years, and smoking is the number one cause of COPD.
Smoking is not the only cause of damage to your lungs. Exposure to dangerous fumes and certain gases in the workplace, or long exposure to cooking with fire can also cause lung damage. Air pollution is another cause for lung damage.
From the moment you are born, the first action you take is breathing. In the old days the doctor used to whack a baby on its bottom to start that first breath. My son just celebrated his birthday, and I found the perfect card for him. It said, there was alot of excitement in the delivery room on the day you were born, everyone wanted to slap your bottom! Of course these days they don't do that, they just suction out the mouth to clear out any mucus. Breathing is also the final action we take.
Normal respirations are 15-20 breaths per minute. In the lungs, the oxygen from each breath is transferred to the bloodstream and sent to all the body’s cells as life-sustaining fuel. Keeping your lungs healthy is an important part of an overall healthy lifestyle.
Warning signs that there is a problem with your lungs include:
- a cough lasting several months;
- shortness of breath;
- coughing up blood;
- producing mucus; and
- chest pain lasting several weeks.
If you have any of these symptoms inform your doctor. He will listen to your breath sounds with a stethoscope, get a chest x-ray done, and if there is any abnormalities detected will do further testing.
Prevention and safety is essential to good lung heath. You need to be aware of the air you breathe at home, school work and outdoors. Being in a smoke free environment, wearing a mask if working around dangerous chemicals and gases, and having proper ventilation at home and school are good ways to prevent damage to your lungs.
Today is Lung Health Day, so take a few minutes to look around your environment to make sure the air you are breathing is hazard free.
For more information about lung health, click here: http://www.worldlungfoundation.org/?gclid=CMWiqNf39qsCFYxx5Qod3l1fGw