The lungs play a major role in managing respiration in all living organisms. The main function of the lungs is to take oxygen from the air into the bloodstream and remove carbon dioxide from the bloodstream into the air. Therefore, it is very necessary to make a specific and structured plan to protect the lungs. In order to implement such a plan, World Lung Day is celebrated on 25th September every year around the world.
Currently, we are facing the Covid-19 pandemic caused by SARS-COV-2. Its main target is our lungs. So now we need to take even better care of our lungs.
On World Lung Day, let us come together and say out loud, “Care for your lungs and keep them healthy”. There are various themes for World Lung Day.
‘Say no to tobacco, create a smoke-free environment’
Smoking is the major cause of lung diseases. Around 80 lakh (8 million) people die worldwide every year due to smoking. As a result of COPD lung disease, the patient slowly becomes weaker. If infected with this disease, the patient’s respiratory system will eventually become impaired and death will slowly become imminent. Smokers are also victims of deadly cancer.
Many people can avoid this risk by quitting smoking; within 20 minutes of quitting smoking, the heart rate starts to normalize. The amount of carbon monoxide in the blood decreases within 12 hours. Within 2-12 weeks, the blood circulation and lung functions become more active.
Within 1-9 months the tendency of cough/ dyspnoea starts to decrease. Within 5-15 years the risk of stroke drops to that of a non-smoker. Within 10 years, lung cancer rates are reduced to half. And within 15 years, the risk of heart disease is reduced to that of non-smokers. In addition, ‘e-cigarettes’ should also be avoided.
Regular and timely vaccination
Different viruses such as influenza or bacteria are responsible for pneumococcal pneumonia. To stay safe from such viruses and ensure that our lungs are protected, it is necessary to get flurix/influenza vaccine once a year and a pneumococcal vaccine once every five years. Vaccines protect our lungs from bacterial and viral diseases, boost the body’s immune system and play a huge role in preventing diseases by creating memory cells.
Currently, our respiratory system is under serious threat due to the coronavirus. In addition to this, it causes serious complications like ARDS from pneumonia. Among such patients, 2% face death in the ICU. Therefore, the vaccine plays one of the main roles in keeping the lungs active and safe from frequent bacterial and viral diseases. So we all need to be aware of this.
Fresh air intake
Around 7 million people worldwide are exposed to air pollution every year. According to research by WHO, 9 out of 10 people are consuming polluted air. This polluted air can easily make people sick through the lungs. Additionally smoking, and smoke emitted from wood-burning stoves in rural areas are causing women to suffer from a deadly disease called COPD.
Apart from this, smoke emitted from factories, brick kilns, cars etc. is also one of the main causes of this disease. Disease levels are high in places where air pollution levels are high. So, it is necessary to know the level of air pollution around your home.
Regular exercise and lung exercises
One of the conditions for keeping the body active and healthy is to keep the main organs of the body (e.g. the lungs, heart and kidneys) active. We can maintain normal levels of oxygen in the body by exercising regularly, getting physical activity and by intake of fresh air. A small machine called a Mini Pulse Oximeter is now available for measuring SPO and heart rate, which is very affordable and useful.
If we want to, we can actively participate in the combined efforts to protect lung health worldwide. To live healthily we need to be more aware. The right amount of knowledge about health and its proper applications can ensure good health. It can also make life more peaceful.
May this be our mantra on World Health Day
Take in clean air and quit smoking
and get timely vaccinations
to protect your lungs and promote good health.
Professor Dr. Rowshne Jahan
MBBS (DMCH), DTCD (DU), MD (Chest)
Senior Consultant and Coordinator- Respiratory Medicine