During these uncertain times, Sirocco would like to bring attention to a topic we are truly passionate about, and that is respiratory health. Aside from the current threat of Covid-19, did you know at present there is an excess of 25 million people within the United States that have been diagnosed with asthma. Additionally, roughly 14.8 million adults have been determined to have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and there is estimated to be around another 12 million people that have not yet been diagnosed.
That is more than 37 million Americans living today, with a chronic lung disease. From data collected in 1980 up to 2014, it was determined that over 4.6 million Americans died from a wide range of respiratory illnesses. The statistics revealed the rate of deaths have risen from 41 out of 100,000 people in 1980, to 53 people out of 100,000 by 2014, a 31% spike in just 35 years.
85% of those deaths were attributed to COPD, which had become the third leading cause of death at the time ahead of stroke, within the United States. However, there are a number of steps you and your loved ones can take to lower your risk of contracting or worsening a respiratory disease.
· Don’t Smoke
Cigarette and tobacco-based products are the leading cause of lung cancer and COPD, which includes conditions like chronic bronchitis and emphysema. First or even secondhand tobacco smoke can narrow out your air passages, cause inflammation, and over time erode lung tissue. If you or a loved one smokes, it's never too late to benefit from quitting.
· Minimize Exposure to Air Pollution
Air quality can vary from day-to-day and based on your geographical location, like living near a large city vs out in a rural community. Natural disasters can also directly impact lung health, hurricanes, earthquakes or volcanic activity, can stir up harmful particles of mold or sulfur dioxide. Being aware of the air pollution around you and how it affects your health is a useful strategy to minimize exposure, which can help keep you and your family well.
· Beware of Radon
Radon is a colorless, tasteless and odorless gas that forms naturally, from soil rich in uranium deposits, once the uranium begins to break down, it forms radium, which then turns into radon gas. Radon gas can then enter through cracks in walls, basement floors, foundations and other openings. As the gas decays, it releases radioactive byproducts that when inhaled, can cause lung cancer, and this is often the only stage at which symptoms will arise.
Since radon comes from rock and soil, it can be found almost anywhere. Exposure to limited concentrations, like those found outdoors, is impossible to avoid and generally does not pose a significant risk. However, when radon gets trapped indoors, that is when it can reach dangerous concentrations.
The only way to detect a buildup of radon is to test the air. Various forms of do-it-yourself test kits and digital detectors are simple to use and inexpensive. There are also a number of professional services that can perform radon testing for you as well.
· Prevent Infection
A simple cold or other respiratory infection can sometimes turn dangerous. There are several simple things you can do to protect your health.
- Wash your hands often with soap and warm water.
- Avoid crowds as much as possible during the cold and flu seasons.
- Have good oral hygiene. This can protect you from germs in your mouth building up and causing infections.
- Get your scheduled vaccinations. Talk to your healthcare provider to find out the right vaccine schedule for you.
- If you get sick, protect yourself and the people around you, by keeping your distance and staying home from work or school until you're feeling better.
-Don’t wait, if you notice serious symptoms like shortness of breath, wheezing, persistent coughing or discoloration of your skin. Consult your health care provider as soon as possible, because early detection is key in respiratory health.
· Avoid Dust
Dust particles vary in size that are both visible or invisible to the human eye. The smaller the particle, the longer it can stay in the air and the further it can travel in the respiratory track. The type and size of a dust particle is prominently what determines how dangerous the dust is.
However, the potential harm the dust may cause to your health is mostly determined by the amount of dust present in the air and how long you have been exposed to it. If you catch it early and stop breathing in more particles, your lungs can often heal. Although if you breathe them in over and over, your lungs will stay inflamed, and scarring can develop, which will make it hard to breathe normally. Fortunately, again there are just a few simple steps that need to be taken.
- Keep your home and workplace well ventilated.
- Change air filters in your home, vehicle, workplace, and with any medical equipment such as CPAP machines and oxygen concentrators on their recommend schedule.
- Wear protective equipment such as a respirator mask when working in high dust environments or working with aerosols like spray paint.
- Keep your environment clean, even simple house hold dust can pose a threat to an individual with asthma. Weekly dusting and vacuuming can make all the difference in the world.
DDHP. “Respiratory Diseases.” Respiratory Diseases | Healthy People 2020, 2020, www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/respiratory-diseases.
lung.org. “Our Impact.” American Lung Association Impact | American Lung Association, 2020, www.lung.org/about-us/mission-impact-and-history/our-impact#:~:text=Nearly%2037%20million%20Americans%20live,includes%20emphysema%20and%20chronic%20bronchitis.
lung.org. “Tips to Keep Your Lungs Healthy.” Tips to Keep Your Lungs Healthy | American Lung Association, 2020, www.lung.org/lung-health-diseases/wellness/protecting-your-lungs.
Mozes, Alan. “Respiratory Disease Death Rates Have Soared.” WebMD, WebMD, 29 Sept. 2017, www.webmd.com/lung/copd/news/20170929/respiratory-disease-death-rates-have-soared.
Zefon. “How Do Hurricanes Affect Air Quality?” Zefon International, 2020, www.zefon.com/hurricanes-air-quality#:~:text=Air%20pollution%20after%20a%20hurricane,air%20pollution%20in%20your%20area.