January 21, 2014 > How Healthy Are Your Lungs?
How Healthy Are Your Lungs?
Learn How to Stay Healthy This Winter and Beyond
Lungs are critical to our breathing, yet many people are unaware of the many risks they take with these vital organs. Smoking and exposure to harmful chemicals or illnesses can compromise the health of lungs, with the possibility of long-term or debilitating conditions such as chronic bronchitis, pneumonia and even lung cancer.
Dr. Jason Chu, a pulmonologist at Washington Hospital, will address some of the many ways that people can take care of their lungs and avoid lung disease at an upcoming Health and Wellness seminar at Washington Hospital on Tuesday, January 28.
Dr. Chu will review the various kinds of lung disease, update attendees on recent updates in lung care and provide expert advice for keeping healthy during the current season of colds and infections, including particularly flu and pneumonia.
Staying Healthy in Flu Season
ÒItÕs important to stay as healthy as possible,Ó asserts Dr. Chu. ÒPeople are not immune, particularly in this season. Air quality is sometimes bad, and there are many people already infected with other illnesses, making it challenging to stay healthy.Ó
What You Can Do Right Now to Avoid Getting Sick
* Use common sense. Make sure youÕve had a flu shot; if you havenÕt had one this season, get it now. Consider getting a vaccine against pneumonia; these are recommended and should be renewed every six years.
* Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. Using soap and hot water, wash hands thoroughly for 30 seconds, being sure to scrub not only the palm but between the fingers and the back of the handing. Use hand sanitizers at home and in public places. Keep them in your desk and your car. ÒItÕs a basic precaution but very necessary,Ó he says.
* Follow a healthy diet with proper nutrition and lots of fluids. Get plenty of rest and exercise to stimulate the bodyÕs health.
* ItÕs easy to pick up infections and illnesses while traveling or even at the office, school or shopping areas. Follow the above practices no matter where you are.
Many people each winter get sick, but they donÕt seek care, thinking they can get through a cold or sore throat, a cough or a stretch of feeling tired and achy. Dr. Chu, however, says that people should Òset their own limitations.Ó
ÒIf you havenÕt felt good for three or more days, and have a fever or phlegm in your throat and chest, these are all signs of an illness or infection.Ó
DonÕt put off a visit to a doctor or health facility. Monitor symptoms of fever and fatigue and donÕt self-diagnose: seek medical expertise and diagnosis. Many people think, ÔI probably have a cold.Õ But, if you feel worn down and are lacking energy, he notes, you should have these symptoms checked out by a health professional. ItÕs important to identify lung infections quickly, because these infections can spread throughout the body in 48 hours.
ÒCover your mouth correctly when coughing,Ó reminds Dr. Chu. ÒCough into a tissue, and wear a face mask if your or sick, or are around others who are coughing.Ó
If you are being treated for a respiratory illness or flu, take the medication until the entire prescription is finished, not just until you are feeling better.
Keep Your Lungs Healthy for Life
Prevention is the key to lung health. While a healthy diet and exercise are keys to overall health, itÕs also good to monitor your lung health.
ÒA nagging cough is a symptom of lung cancer. So is blood in the phlegm. Do you have pneumonia that doesnÕt clear up? Has the sound of your voice changed? Be proactive and get screened as soon as you note a change in your lungs. DonÕt put off a test because youÕre afraid,Ó Dr. Chu emphasizes.
Early screenings can detect chronic bronchitis and other lung conditions, including cancer. Radiation, chemotherapy and some surgical procedures can help. In some cases, oxygen therapy can help relieve bronchitis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
The many carcinogens in tobacco can affect not only lungs, but also heart and bladder. Dr. Chu reports that up to 95 percent of lung cancers are caused by smoking, and even by exposure to second-hand smoke.
ÒRecently the U.S. Surgeon General reminded the public that 50 years ago the office stated that smoking was dangerous to the health of people, and yet itÕs still a leading cause of death today,Ó notes Dr. Chu. ÒThis remains a national health concern.Ó
Looking to the Future
Dr. Chu believes better testing for lung diseases and increased awareness of lung diseases give us hope for the future. In the meantime, healthy practices are the best assurance of lung health. If you donÕt smoke, donÕt start. Avoid second-hand smoke. Practice good nutrition and get plenty of exercise. ÒPrevention is the key,Ó stresses Dr. Chu.
Register Online for the Healthy Lung Seminar
Topic: How Healthy Are Your Lungs?
When: Tuesday, January 28
Time: 1 to 3 p.m.
Location: Conrad E. Anderson, M.D. Auditorium, 2500 Mowry Avenue (Washington West)
Register online at www.whhs.com/event/class-registration