Lung Disease Demystified

Lung disease is any problem that causes our lungs to not function properly. There are 3 major areas where lung disease can occur: (a) the airways (b) the tissue, and (c) blood vessels.

The airways include the parts of your body, such as the mouth, nose and throat, that allow air to enter your lungs. Any blockage in the airways will prevent oxygen from entering the lungs and make it harder to breathe. Let’s focus on the most common lung diseases found in the airways, COPD and asthma, which are leading causes of lung disease affecting millions of people.

1. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

COPD is a term for a group of chronic inflammatory diseases. COPD is caused by long-term air exposure to environmental toxins, like dust and chemicals, but most often occurs in people who smoke cigarettes. COPD leads to difficulty breathing with frequent coughing, wheezing, and excess phlegm build up. If you have any of these symptoms, make sure you test your lung function as soon as possible. Although COPD is not curable, it is a slowly progressing disease and treatable if found early.

2. Asthma

Asthma is a condition where the airways become swollen and inflammed, causing them to narrow and making it hard to breathe. The cause of asthma is unknown but airborne factors such as an over sensitivity to allergens, infectious agents, or pollution may be the culprit. Asthma causes shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, and wheezing. It can be seen in ‘asthma attacks’ which range from mild to severe to life-threatening. If you are having an asthma attack, it is important to calm down, sit up and focus on your breathing. A drink containing caffeine such as coffee, tea or soda can also help with your breathing.