• February 26th, 2020

Taking a deep breath

Did you know that chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) has been named the silent epidemic in Africa? The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that in 2015, three million people died due to the illness globally. According to the WHO, the primary cause of COPD is exposure to cigarette smoking. COPD, like many other lung-related illnesses are preventable, yet many people die or lead a poor quality life due to it.

Lung health is an important aspect of our daily life. In fact, without healthy lungs, we may end up being breathless for the wrong reasons. This article is the first of three that will focus on lung health, and culminate into a piece discussing World TB Day, to be commemorated later this month. Our lungs help us to breathe and are thus essential for human life. When you breathe, your lungs take in oxygen from the air and deliver it to the bloodstream. They also remove carbon dioxide, a gas the body does not need, from the blood. Breathing essentially also helps us to talk and sing. Admittedly not many people think about the importance of their lungs until it is almost too late and for most, only when they experience serious breathing problems.  

According to science, a person breathes on average nearly 25,000 times during a normal day. Genetics, disease, and our environment can affect the health of our lungs and may cause respiratory problems. When our lung health is compromised, the quality of everyday life is negatively impacted and people with lung disease have difficulty breathing. Anecdotally a substantial number of people in Namibia suffer from lung disease or respiratory problems. These include, but are not limited to potentially life-threatening conditions such as asthma, COPD, lung cancer, tuberculosis, pneumonia, emphysema, and many others. 

Sometimes people think respiratory problems are a sign of old age. That is a myth that should be debunked. Anyone can experience it, and knowing the early warning signs of lung disease can help people to receive treatment before the disease becomes serious or life-threatening. If you experience any of the following warning signs, make an appointment with your healthcare provider sooner rather than later: trouble breathing, shortness of breath, feeling like you’re not getting enough air, decreased ability to exercise, a cough that won’t go away, coughing up blood or mucus, pain or discomfort when breathing in or out, noisy breathing or wheezing. The good news is that chronic lung disease can be managed. So, don’t despair, rather repair! This would be a time to have your doctor as a close ally, as he or she may refer you to a rehabilitation program. These programmes are aimed at restoring your health and quality of life through education, exercise, and proper nutrition. With a basic understanding of your disease and good medical care, you can improve your lung health considerably. 

For those who are out of the danger zone, good for you. But remember that the evergreen saying of “prevention is better than cure” still goes. The following measures may keep a minor lung condition at bay:
Smoking cessation; avoiding second-hand smoke or environmental irritants such as pesticides; eat foods rich in antioxidants, such as blue and red grapes, nuts, dark green and orange veggies, and fish; vaccinations for the flu and pneumonia; daily mild exercise such as brisk walking and running and improved ventilation by keeping doors and windows open to allow circulation of fresh air.

New Era Reporter
2019-03-11 10:12:45 | 11 months ago

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