Good Health Articles

Take a Deep Breath

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month

We take it for granted, don’t we?  The privilege of taking a deep breath – breathing in the cool mountain air, taking a cleansing breath during a workout, or inhaling the sweet aroma of freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies.  November is lung cancer and COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) awareness month; it’s a time to remember that not everyone is so lucky in being able to take a deep breath, and take the opportunity to focus on how we can maintain our own lung health.

by Alicia Wanek

Most people are not aware of how widespread lung disease really is.  A CDC report in 2014 lists lung cancer as the leading cancer killer in both men and women in the U.S., accounting for approximately 27% of all cancer deaths in 2015.  COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. after heart disease, cancer, and stroke. This chronic disease, including emphysema and chronic bronchitis, progresses over time and almost always causes an early death.  The good news about COPD is that it is preventable.

Anyone experiencing a chronic cough, shortness of breath or wheezing, constant chest pain, hoarseness over time, and/or frequent lung infections should see their physician immediately to have their lung health examined.  Patients are lucky that there are now so many advanced radiological exams available to pinpoint the cause of their breathing struggles.  Envision Imaging, with offices around the Dallas/Fort Worth area, offers detailed CT tests, some with even higher resolution than MRI, to diagnose abnormalities in the lungs.  Envision then offers multiple follow-up scans, including CT angiography.  This exam can use a radioactive dye to look directly at the function of the pulmonary artery that provides blood directly from the heart to the lungs.  This is vital in determining if there are clots or other obstructions.  In cases where lung cancer is suspected, Envision can perform PET scans which are invaluable in locating and determining the size of tumors.  The earlier any lung disease is detected, the better the long-term prognosis.

How we can ensure we’ll be breathing easy for a long time to come?  “The lungs are very durable if they’re not attacked from the outside,” says Norman H. Edelman, MD, chief medical officer of the American Lung Association (ALA).  There are a few things we can all do.  You probably already know the first.

1. Do not smoke – anything. Learn more about the dangers of vaping and e-cigarettes. They may be less dangerous than traditional cigarettes, but they can still cause long-term lung damage.

2. Exercise.  The better your cardiorespiratory fitness, the easier it is for your lungs to keep your heart and muscles supplied with oxygen.

3. Eat antioxidant-rich foods.  A 2010 study found that people who consumed the most cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, bok choy, kale, and more) had almost half the risk of lung cancer compared to those who consumed the least.

4. Be aware of what you’re breathing in. Outdoor air pollution, inhalation of chemicals from household items like paint, radon in your home, mold, or diesel exhaust can all be very harmful, especially long-term.  Use protective equipment whenever possible and purchase a radon detector for your home.

5. Get your flu shot.  Respiratory infections are especially dangerous if you are already at risk, so prevention is important.

For more information, visit envisionimg.com.


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