Everyone takes breathing for granted… except those for whom it’s a daily struggle. That effort can result from a range of lung diseases and cures are hard to come by.
Lung cancer is probably the most well advertised, though – thankfully – it is becoming less so as a result of improved treatments. It is, paradoxically, one of the few conditions that can actually be cured. Through a combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and possibly radiation, a person can actually emerge from lung cancer with excellent prospects of a normal lifespan and lifestyle.
Sadly, those prospects are not quite so good for one of the millions of individuals afflicted with some form of COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease). Whether chronic bronchitis or emphysema, or any of the lesser known obstructive lung diseases, no cure is known, yet.
However, they are easily diagnosed and there are several effective treatments for COPD that can ease symptoms. Through the use of bronchodilators for short-term relief and corticosteroids to improve long-term function, COPD sufferers can live fairly normal lives. Similar treatments for asthma have long been known and are used by millions of people of all ages.
For those who have contracted tuberculosis, the prospects are even better today. It is easily diagnosed with a simple skin test. And, because it is caused by a specific bacterium, it can be cured in most cases by any of a number of antibiotics.
As with any disease, of course, the best treatment is prevention. There is no guarantee, particularly because the underlying causes are often unknown, but an individual can drastically improve his or her odds through lifestyle choices.
Cigarette smoking, for example, is well-known as one of the major risk factors for a range of lung conditions. Lung cancer, COPD, and more are all about 10 times more likely among those who smoke a pack a day for years. Allergic asthma, while it isn’t caused by smoking, can be made worse by it, since it significantly reduces the body’s ability to deal with the disease.
Apart from avoiding harmful substances like smoke and industrial chemicals, positive factors can optimize lung health.
A diet rich in antioxidants may help lung tissue deal with irritants and invading organisms. Even caffeine and alcohol in moderation are beneficial. Regular, age-and-health-appropriate exercise helps bolster overall health. At the same time, it produces benefits which have a direct bearing on lung capacity and fitness. Keeping the home environment relatively free of fungi, dust, animal dander and other contaminants helps protect the lungs from harm.
Knowing how your lungs function under normal circumstances can help you see some ways to keep them in the best possible working order.