We tend to rarely think about breathing except when we have trouble with it, and with October as Healthy Lung Month, it's an excellent time to increase awareness about why having good lung health is crucial. Many health organizations have joined forces to raise public awareness about the importance of protecting the lungs and designated October as the month for doing so.
Lung diseases affect many Americans; CDC's Interactive Summary Health Statistics for Adults states that about 10 million are diagnosed with chronic bronchitis yearly, 25 million have asthma, and over 150,000 die from lung cancer annually.
Veterans encountered numerous health risk factors during service, impacting their respiratory system. Navy veterans faced the high risk of asbestos exposure by serving on warships without being warned about its danger. They must pay attention to their lung health because asbestos-related illnesses take decades to develop and, in many cases, are discovered in advanced stages. It is why being mindful of the symptoms is essential:
- persistent dry cough
- chest pain or tightness
- loss of appetite
- shortness of breath
- muscle aches
- joint pain
- unintentional weight loss
- clubbing of the fingers
- leg swelling
Ways to Keep Lungs Healthy
Our lungs are doing their work even if we don't think about them, and we shouldn't take their health for granted. By taking care of our lungs, we ensure that our lungs will take care of us. The following recommendations can help to breathe easier and maintain good health condition of the lungs:
- Prevent respiratory infections - a cold or respiratory disease can have serious consequences. To avoid complications, it's best to prevent them. Although we can't avert all viruses, we can reduce the contamination risk by washing our hands and avoiding crowded places. Those who are sensitive to infections or have a chronic health condition should be up to date on vaccinations recommended by the doctor.
- Visit your doctor regularly - the best way to be sure your lungs are healthy is to attend your checkups and be sure to schedule routine appointments with your doctor. Regular checkups and screenings help avert diseases even when you are feeling well. Visit your doctor if you have a persistent cough or experience shortness of breath when physically exerting yourself. It may be nothing, but it could be a warning sign of a respiratory condition affecting your lungs.
- Do some form of exercise - regular physical activity makes the lungs stronger. Exercise boosts the immune system to help hinder infections such as pneumonia and bronchitis. Targeted exercises can also strengthen the diaphragm and the muscles between the ribs, which help with better breathing. Walking or swimming and light resistance training are primary exercises to maintain good blood circulation and a toned muscular system. Talk to your doctor to establish an exercise program if you have an underlying health condition.
- Quit smoking - cigarette smoking is one of the factors that can cause lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It can narrow the air passages, inflame the lung tissue, and make breathing harder. Quitting smoking is hard, but there's always the option to schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss options.
- Eat the right foods - nutrition is the basis of our general health and a key factor for our lung health. Certain foods have nutrients that help protect the lungs and optimize their function: apples, blueberries, pumpkin, peppers, lentils, beets, and yogurt are beneficial for the lungs, along with green tea, coffee, olive oil, and turmeric. Ask for advice from your doctor or nutritionist about what foods you could incorporate into your diet for lung health.
- Do breathing exercises - deep breathing and some specific breathing exercises can increase the capacity of the lungs, making breathing easier. One relevant example is diaphragmatic breathing, which involves awareness of the diaphragm muscle, which separates organs in the abdomen from the lungs.
If You Served in the Navy in the 1900s, Consider Making an Appointment with a Pulmonologist
Many Navy veterans struggle with a pulmonary disease without knowing that it could have been caused by military asbestos exposure. Because asbestos was widespread on the ships, everyone who served on them was potentially exposed to the danger of inhaling or ingesting the asbestos fibers. Regular lung checkups are a must in preventing further aggravation of the symptoms or having a diagnosis of your condition. An appointment with a pulmonologist experienced in caring for patients with lung diseases caused by prolonged asbestos exposure will ensure you receive an exact diagnosis and the most advanced treatments.
The VA compensates the asbestos-related lung conditions as long as the veteran is honorably discharged and has medical records from the doctor proving the disease is asbestos-related. A correct asbestos-related diagnosis from the pulmonologist will help you qualify for payment. If you consider taking legal action and filing a claim with the VA to receive financial compensation for your condition, we can help you contact the best legal specialist for your case.