Every cell in the body needs oxygen in order to live. To supply the oxygen, the lungs take oxygen from the environment and transfer it to the bloodstream. From there, it circulates to the rest of the body. Lung diseases, especially pneumonia and tuberculosis continue to take the lives of many people. Thus, the public should be aware that lung diseases are actually preventable with proper knowledge and interventions. Hence, Former President Ferdinand E. Marcos declared the month of August as National Lung Month by virtue of Proclamation No. 1761, series of 1978 to increase public awareness of these diseases.
Lungs are a pair of roughly conical in shape organs that are located in the chest, behind the ribcage on either side of the heart. Lung disease is one of the most common medical condition worldwide. According to the latest World Health Organization (WHO) data published in 2018, lung disease deaths in Philippines reached 25,236 or 4.14% of total deaths. The age adjusted death rate is 45.61 per 100,000 of population ranks the Philippines number 16th in lung disease deaths in the world. These lung diseases that need to be avoided include, asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), lung cancer, infections like influenza, pneumonia and tuberculosis, and many other breathing problems. Some can even lead to respiratory failure that causes death.
Prevention is better than cure. To protect yourself from acquiring lung diseases that may develop to further damage, here are some tips to keep your lungs healthy:
- Do not smoke – Smoking damages your lungs and increases your risk of lung diseases including lung cancer, tuberculosis and COPD. Cigarette smoke can narrow the air passages and make breathing more difficult. If you are already a smoker, it’s never too late to find a way to stop it and benefit from quitting.
- Avoid second- and third-hand smoke – Inhaling the smoke from cigarettes and pipes increases your risk for the same diseases that affect people who smoke. Never allow smoking in your home, in the car or at work. Stay away also from third-hand smoke or the remaining tobacco fumes that stick to walls and furniture.
- Protect yourself from carcinogen and dust – Wear a face mask if your job requires you to be near to fumes, gases, vapors, mists, chemicals and dusty environment. Poor ventilation, closed-in working areas and heat also increase the risk of lung diseases.
- Practice oral hygiene and proper sanitation – Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water several times a day to avoid most common infectious diseases that are spread by hand. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze and throw immediately after using. Good oral hygiene is also a must. Brush and floss your teeth after every meal or at least twice a day and make it a habit to visit your dentist regularly.
- Exercise and eat healthy foods – A good way to keep your lungs healthy is by eating a healthy diet. Eat foods that are high in Vitamin C such as fruits and vegetables to boost your immune system against infections and drink plenty of water to avoid dry lungs that are prone to irritation. Do something active for at least 30 minutes each day to lighten the load on your lungs and increase the efficiency of oxygen transportation in your body. You could also try aerobic exercises and other breathing exercises to help improve your lung capacity.
Like oxygen, lungs are vital to sustain the biological life. Lung capacity declines as you age. In order to maintain a healthy life, the lung should be protected early from all the possible diseases that it is susceptible. Keep your lungs healthy by taking good care of yourself every day. Avoid smoking, practice sanitation, eat a balanced diet, exercise and reduce stress to breathe easier.
NO I Angelica O. Pajulas
1. World Health rankings from https://www.worldlifeexpectancy.com/philippines-lung-disease
2. Prevent lung disease from https://www.lung.ca/lung-health/prevent-lung-disease
3. What do lungs do and how do they function from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/305190