Do You Prioritize Your Lung Health? – November is National Lung Cancer Awareness Month and also features World Pneumonia Day on the 12th. Our lungs are one of the most important parts of our body, keeping us alive without a thought! Follow these tips for peak lung health and what respiratory infections could impair your ability to thrive this season right here on Newsymom!
This is Public Health is brought to you in partnership with the Tuscarawas County Health Department.
Tis’ the season of respiratory infection, and we’re getting into the thick of it! In honor of a very crucial part of our bodies, today we’re talking about lung health. Let’s start by going over what our lungs do to keep us alive every single day.
What Our Lungs Do
Yes, if you’ve taken Biology or Anatomy in school, you know why we have lungs and how they work. However, it’s important to go over what they do and how various illnesses can impact their job!
- Are a pair of spongy organs in your chest.
- Move oxygen to your blood everytime you inhale.
- And push carbon dioxide (waste gas) out each time you exhale.
The lungs are central to the respiratory system, which also includes other parts such as the trachea (windpipe), chest wall and diaphragm muscles, blood vessels, and other tissues. All of these pieces work together to make breathing, and living, possible!
Your brain works in conjunction with the respiratory system to control how fast or slow you breathe based on your body’s need for oxygen. For instance, when you’re doing cardio, your body requires more oxygen. That’s why you breathe harder when jogging, running, or dancing! That’s your brain’s “cue” to say, “Hey! We need more oxygen here!”
Common Respiratory Illnesses and How They Impact Your Lungs
During the fall and winter seasons, we see a lot of respiratory illness. Here are some of the most common ones and how they impact your lung health:
We’re all familiar with this one! COVID-19 is an illness that causes a variety of symptoms, but most critically to lung health, is trouble breathing! Without the ability to breathe, our body isn’t getting the oxygen it so desperately needs to survive. To avoid contracting or spreading COVID-19 this season, get vaccinated, wear a mask (especially in crowded places), wash your hands frequently (or carry sanitizer made with at least 60% alcohol), and keep a “personal bubble” space of six feet between you and the next person.
RSV (Respiratory Syncytial Virus)
A hot topic amongst mom groups and babies this year, RSV infection is a common respiratory virus. Younger infants and older adults are severely at risk for complications to ensue, which is why taking precautions around these groups are so important. When it comes to visiting babies or elderly persons this season, wear a mask, wash your hands, and do not kiss anywhere on the face, mouth, etc.! You may be carrying RSV and transmitting to these susceptible people. Instead, tickle those little baby feet, spend some QT knitting with grandma (six feet away, if possible), and keep your family members and friends safe this season.
Each year, we have new flu vaccines available to help our bodies fight multiple strains of the virus! (Get your vaccine scheduled with the Tuscarawas County Health Department at (330) 343-5555 x. 100.) Influenza is a respiratory-transmitted illness causing all kinds of havoc on our bodies including: fever, chills, cough, sore throat, muscle or body aches, and much more. Most people who contract the flu virus will develop mild symptoms and feel better within days to a couple weeks; However, more serious cases could cause someone to develop worse illnesses, such as…
An infection of the air sacs within your lungs, Pneumonia typically starts with another illness, such as COVID-19, RSV, or Influenza. Viruses, bacteria, or fungi can all cause it and there are groups that are much more at risk, such as people under age 5 and over age 65, people with ongoing medical conditions, and people who smoke. The best way to avoid contracting Pneumonia is to make prevention your top priority. By staying up-to-date with vaccines for respiratory illnesses you reduce your risk!
Other Lung Diseases
There are other lung diseases that can impact your health as well. Disease such as:
The third most common cancer in the U.S., lung cancer is caused by more than just smoking tobacco. Those subjected to secondhand smoke, those living in a home with radon, and those with family history of lung cancer can be victims to it as well! Screen early for your lung’s health.
A chronic, long-term condition that affects the airways of your lungs. An asthmatic’s airways are inflamed and produce extra mucus, making it hard to breathe. Exercising, pollutants, and other triggers can cause Asthma Attacks, episodes in which breathing is extremely difficult and may require emergency breathing treatments or hospitalization.
Tips to Thrive This Season
Take the following precautions this season to ensure you limit contact with respiratory illness and avoid spreading them:
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water (or use 60% alcohol-based sanitizer when that’s not available)
- Wear a mask
- Keep your personal bubble space with others (six feet, if possible)
- Stay home and away from others if you’re not feeling well
- Clean hot-spot points of transmission in your home, car, and at work (i.e. doorknobs, light switches, handles, touchscreen devices, keyboards, remotes, etc.)
- Don’t kiss babies anywhere near their hands, mouth, face, etc. (You can get them sick, putting them in the hospital!) Try tickles, peek-a-boo, or another game instead. Use the same precautions for at-risk elderly.
- Follow these additional tips for peak lung health: Tips to Keep Your Lungs Healthy
The Tuscarawas County Health Department wants you respiratory illness-free this holiday season! Call them at (330) 343-5555 x. 100 for more info on scheduling your vaccines or visit them at www.tchdnow.org to see the variety of services they offer you and your family.
Make sure to follow along on Facebook (@tchdnow) for the latest news and safety tips to keep your respiratory health your top priority!