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Severe Lung Disease

Chronic Lung Disease & Severe Lung Disease - Its Symptoms, Treatment & Breathing Improvement

Function of Healthy Lungs

- Lungs are the organs that breathe. Lungs provide a huge area (as large as a football field) for oxygen from the air to pass into the bloodstream and carbon dioxide to move out. The cells of our bodies need oxygen in order to work and grow. Our cells also need to get rid of carbon dioxide.


During a normal day, we breathe nearly 25,000 times, and inhale large amounts of air. The air we take in contains mostly oxygen and nitrogen. But air also has things in it that can hurt our lungs. Bacteria, viruses, tobacco smoke, car exhaust, and other pollutants can be in the air. People with lung disease have difficulty breathing. These breathing problems may prevent the body from getting enough oxygen.

Is Lung Disease a Common Health Problem?

Yes. More than 35 million Americans have an ongoing/or chronic lung disease like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). If all types of lung disease are lumped together it is the number three killer in the United States. It causes 1 in 7 deaths in this country each year.

The term lung disease refers to many disorders affecting the lungs such as:

How can I Decrease my Chances of Lung Disease?

Things you can do to reduce your risk of all lung diseases include:

What causes Lung Disease?

There are many known causes of lung disease. Still, the causes of many lung diseases are still not known. Some known causes of lung disease include:

Should Women be Worried about Lung Disease?

Yes. The number of women diagnosed with lung disease in the United States is on the rise. The percentage of women dying from lung disease in this country is also increasing.

Here are some other reasons why lung disease is an important health concern for women:

What Types of Lung Disease are most Common in Women?

Three of the most common lung diseases in women are asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and lung cancer. Other important but less widespread lung problems that affect women include:

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

COPD is a term that describes related diseases: chronic obstructive bronchitis and emphysema. These conditions often occur together. Both diseases limit airflow out of the lungs and make breathing difficult. COPD gets worse with time.

In almost 90% of cases, smoking is the cause of COPD. The single most important thing a person can do to reduce their risk of lung disease is to stop smoking.

COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. In 2003, more than 7.2 million women had COPD in this country. And more women have died from COPD than men every year since 2000.

In COPD, there is inflammation of the tubes (bronchial tubes) that carry air in and out of the lungs. This ongoing irritation thickens and scars the lining of the bronchial tubes. The irritation also causes the growth of cells that make mucus.

If the airways become thickened enough to restrict air flow to and from the lungs, the condition is called chronic obstructive bronchitis. The excess mucus leads to a constant cough typical of this illness.

But early signs of COPD are often hard to detect. People often decrease their activity level without even realizing it. And some people just assume age or weight gain is the cause of their lack of energy.

In emphysema, the walls between the air sacs-known as alveoli are destroyed and the lung tissue is weakened. Normally oxygen from the air goes into the blood through these air sacs. But as the air sacs become damaged, the lung has less surface area. This interferes with the movement of oxygen from the air into the blood. So less oxygen passes into the blood of people with emphysema. Emphysema causes shortness of breath, cough and wheezing, which has a squeaky sound when breathing.

Still, the early signs of emphysema are often very hard to detect. Since 2004, the rate of emphysema in American women has increased by 5%. In contrast, the rate in men has decreased by 10%. In 2003, approximately 1.4 million women had emphysema.

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is a disease in which abnormal or malignant lung cells divide without control. These cancerous cells can invade nearby tissues and/or spread to other parts of the body. There are two major kinds of lung cancer: non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer. Non-small cell lung cancer is the most common kind.

Lung cancer is the leading cancer killer of American women. Lung cancer will kill more than 68,000 women this year. And more and more women are being diagnosed with this disease in the United States. Smoking causes 87% of all cases of lung cancer.

Warning Signs of Lung Disease

Early signs of lung disease can be easy to overlook. Often people with early lung disease just say they don't have much energy.

Some common signs of lung disease include:

If you have any of these symptoms, call your doctor immediately. She will be able to pinpoint what is wrong with you.

Recommended Health Resources of Interest

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