Keeping your lungs healthy

The lungs are a hugely important part of your body. They take in all the oxygen that your organs and other tissues require. They are part of our respiratory system which includes:

  • Nose and Mouth
  • Windpipe (trachea)
  • Tubes that connect each lung (bronchus)
  • Lungs

When we breathe in, air passes from our mouth and nose through to the trachea. The trachea then divides into two tubes that connect to each lung. These tubes are called the bronchus.

Air passes through the bronchus to and into the lungs through smaller sized tubes called the bronchioles. At the end of these tubes, there are air sacs known as the alveoli. This is where the oxygen from the air we’ve inhaled passes into the blood to be circulated around the body to supply our organs and other tissue.

Exercise is the best way to keep your lungs healthy, however, lung damage can be caused by a multitude of factors.

Lung damage

Lung damage can be caused by various factors. Here are some of the main causes of lung damage:

  • Smoking – Cigarette smoke contains hundreds of harmful substances that can cause lung damage. These substances trigger inflammation and destroy the elasticity and structure of the lungs’ air passages and sacs. Cigarette smoke can also cause damage the lungs’ ability to clear mucus, and the resulting build-up can cause infections.
  • Pollution – Inhaling air pollutants such as diesel exhaust fumes and other pollutants can cause inflammation and this can result in permanent damage.
  • Household elements – Everyday items in your home can cause lung damage, such as asbestos (if disturbed or cut), mould and radon gas.
  • Medical conditions – Some medical conditions can cause lung damage including lupus, mixed connective tissue disease, polymyositis, pulmonary vasculitis, sarcoidosis. Scleroderma and Sjogren’s syndrome. Also, people who have close relatives who have had emphysema have an elevated risk of developing emphysema themselves due to similar genetics.
  • Medical treatments – There are some medical treatments that can cause lung damage. Radiotherapy (especially for lung and breast cancer) and Chemotherapy (particularly cyclophosphamide and methotrexate) may lead to lung damage. Certain antibiotics, anticonvulsants, antiarrhythmics and heart medications can also lead to lung damage.

The most common form of lung damage is lung cancer. There are two main types of lung cancer – non-small cell lung cancer NSCLC, the most common type, and small cell lung cancer SCLC. This makes up about 10% of lung cancers.

Non-small cell lung cancer

There are three main types of NSCLC:

  • This is the most common type of lung cancer. It develops from mucus-producing cells that line the airways.
  • Squamous cell carcinoma tends to develop in the cells that line the airways. It is normally caused by smoking.
  • Large cell carcinoma is called this due to how the cancer cells look when observed under a microscope.

Small cell lung cancer

Small cell lung cancer also gets its name from how the cells look when observed under a microscope. It’s usually caused by smoking and very rarely develops in someone who has never smoked. SCLC usually grows quickly and can spread very rapidly.

If you think that you may be affected by any lung conditions get in touch with your doctor or look to speak to a specialist health provider such as The LOC where you can get checked out and receive the treatment you may require.

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