New data released by the Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) to coincide with World Spirometry Day today has revealed a worrying lack of understanding and concern among the public about the world’s biggest killer - lung disease, which now claims the lives of almost 4 million people a year.
Lung diseases (including respiratory infections, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer and tuberculosis (TB)) are the leading cause of death, responsible for almost two out of 10 deaths worldwide. However, prevention is possible and by taking a simple and quick spirometry test, some lung conditions, such as COPD and asthma can be detected early, before the onset of debilitating symptoms.
The focus on the campaign from the ERS, to coincide with the Olympics, is to get people who have lung disease to think about exercising. Surprisingly, 80% of people in a recent survey thought that those with lung disease were unable to undertake even moderate exercise like swimming or going to the gym and what’s more, only 27% of those already suffering from a lung disease have actually discussed exercise with their doctor - even though simple exercises can improve lung capacity and general well being in even the most severe cases.
Here are five top tips to help get you breathing easier
1. STOP SMOKING
Breathing in cigarette smoke irritates the airways causing coughing, shortness of breath and a range of lung diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer. Asthma is more difficult to control in people who smoke. Stopping smoking can prevent COPD getting worse, improve asthma control and reduce the risk of lung cancer.
Exercise as often as you can to improve your overall fitness and well-being. For example, a brisk walk for 30 minutes a day can reduce the feeling of breathlessness and relieve the symptoms of early stage lung disease.
Being overweight makes breathing more difficult, and being underweight is associated with more severe lung disease. Healthy eating should be part of your daily routine. It is recommended that you eat three to four meals a day including lots of fruit and vegetables.
Catching fl u or other lung infections can be more dangerous for people with breathing problems. If you are experiencing breathing difficulties, it is advisable to have a flu vaccine every year and a pneumonia vaccine if you are over 65.
5. TAKE A SPIROMETRY TEST
Spirometry tests are an accurate way of telling how well you can breathe and can detect symptoms of many important lung diseases early on, giving you time to make necessary lifestyle changes.