Breathing easily is something many of us take for granted. However, over 10,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with lung disease each week. As the British Lung Foundation have launched a new campaign about looking after your lungs, we thought it was the perfect time for us all to learn a bit more about these vital organs.
What is a lung condition?
The term ‘lung condition’ actually covers a broad variety of diseases, conditions and cancers which affect the lungs.
How common are lung conditions?
In the UK around 1 in 5 people have been diagnosed with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or another long-term respiratory illness.
Each year, lung diseases are responsible for over 700,000 hospital admissions and over 6 million inpatient bed-days in the UK. Over 85,000 people in the UK have been diagnosed with lung cancer.
Here are some of the most common lung conditions:
Asthma is a common condition which affects around 5.4 million people in the UK.
It’s an inflammation in the airways which leads to a narrowing of the air passages of the lungs. People with asthma will often experience the following symptoms:
- Wheezing when breathing
- A feeling of breathlessness
- Fits of coughing
- Tightness around the chest area
Asthma symptoms can be triggered by a variety of factors including dust, animal fur, smoke fumes, some medications, stress, exercise, and many others. On average, 3 people die from asthma attacks every day in the UK.
There’s no known cure for asthma, but for most patients it can be successfully managed using prescribed medicines, usually through an inhaler device. If you’re looking for more information, check out our Superintendent Pharmacist’s blog about asthma.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the collective name for a group of conditions which cause breathing difficulties. These conditions include emphysema (damage to the air sacs in the lungs), and chronic bronchitis (long-term inflammation of the airways).
COPD is common and it mainly affects middle-aged and older patients with a history of smoking. The symptoms include:
- Increased breathlessness when active
- A persistent chesty cough with phlegm
- Frequent chest infections
Again, there’s no known cure for COPD. However, with treatment, its progression can be slowed and the symptoms may be controlled. If you’re a smoker, quitting this habit is the single most important thing you can do to help yourself.
What are other common lung conditions?
Where can I learn more about lung conditions?
From the 22nd – 29th June 2020, the British Lung Foundation is launching Love Your Lungs week. As an organisation, they aim to raise awareness of lung conditions and the challenges facing successful treatment. They also raise funds for research into understanding the root causes that can lead to lung conditions, including air pollution.
They’re also a great resource for those who are living with a lung condition.