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November 17, 2015

Just One Breath; Lung Health Awareness


Lung Health Awareness Month

During November  Lung Foundation Australia celebrate the importance of breathing and encourage everyone to stop and think about what they can do with just one breath.

Lung Foundation Australia aims to ensure lung health is a priority for all in Australia and works to promote lung health among the wider community, patients and health care professionals.

Lung disease doesn’t discriminate – it affects the young, old, male, female, smokers, former-smokers and never smokers.

Throughout Lung Health Awareness Month, Lung Foundation Australia encourages everyone to take Just One Breath and celebrate the gift of breathing.

Lung health is vital and often overlooked by many Australians. We’re used to thinking about our heart, skin and breast health but our lungs are equally important.

In fact, one in seven Australians die because of lung disease every year, yet many of us continue to ignore the signs or symptoms of lung disease, often not doing anything about it for far too long.

Lung Health Checklist

Lung Foundation Australia encourages you to take a look at your own lung health by completing this checklist (you will be taken to the LFA webpage).

From coughs and colds, to asthma to rare pulmonary diseases many conditions can affect the lungs. There are fact sheets available on all lung conditions at Lung Foundation Australia.

Exercise and Lung Disease

“I can’t catch my breath standing still, why should I exercise?”

People who have chronic lung conditions are often less active and can lose their fitness and muscle strength. By exercising regularly, a person’s fitness and muscle strength can be maintained or improved.

Exercising for more than two hours per week performing activities such as walking or cycling, can improve the health of people with chronic lung conditions. As a result they will feel better and stay well.

People who exercise regularly can reduce their need for hospital admission.

Walking is one of the most important aspects of an exercise program for respiratory health and should be combined with some weight or resistance based upper and lower limb exercises.

Exercise will help to:

  • Make your heart stronger and healthier
  • Improve your arm, body and leg muscle strength
  • Improve your breathing
  • Clear mucus (or sputum) from your chest
  • Reduce your breathlessness during daily activities
  • Increase the number of activities that you are able to do each day or each week
  • Improve your balance
  • Improve your mood and make you feel more in control
  • Make you more independent
  • Assist your weight control
  • Improve your bone density

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

(Emphysema, Chronic bronchitis and irreversible Chronic Asthma)

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a serious, progressive and disabling condition that limits airflow in the lungs. It includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis. People with COPD are prone to severe episodes of shortness of breath, with fits of coughing.

COPD and asthma are both types of obstructive airways disease.

Many people with COPD have a combination of emphysema, chronic bronchitis and asthma.

The development of COPD occurs over many years and therefore mainly affects middle aged and older people while asthma affects people of all ages.

Symptoms such as breathlessness lead to a reduction in a person’s ability to undertake physical activity. This reduced level of activity reduces confidence and then leads into a cycle of inactivity as they become unfit and poorly conditioned. Lack of conditioning makes their movements less efficient, requiring greater effort to complete everyday tasks.

You can find out more about COPD at Lung Foundation Australia.

The good news is that by following the steps below, you can reduce ALL your symptoms and slow down the damage being done to your lungs.

  1. Stop smoking – There are immediate health benefits to quitting smoking at any age, regardless of the presence of smoking related disease. Stopping smoking decreases the risk of lung and other cancers, heart attack, stroke and chronic disease compared with continued smoking. Get help to quit smoking – talk to your health professional, call the Quitline on 137848 or go to www.quitcoach.org.au
  2. Talk to your doctor about your symptoms and medications.
  3. Boost your health through diet and exercise.
  4. Protect against flare-ups by having the flu and pneumococcal vaccinations as required and acting quickly if your symptoms worsen (make a plan with your doctor to prepare for this).
  5. Find a team of health professionals you like and are happy to work with on a regular basis. The more they know about you and your symptoms, the better job they can do working with you to manage your COPD.
  6. Ask your health professional to prepare a plan of the things you can do to control your COPD and make your breathing easier.