Staying healthy and active while ageing is key to enjoying a longer, more fulfilling life. While exercising and eating right are pillars of a healthy lifestyle, it’s important to ensure the different systems in your body, like your lungs, are functioning as they should. Taking care of your lungs can enhance your overall quality of life and keep you doing the things you love for longer.
Maintaining Good Lung Health
In an effort to keep your lungs functioning at their best as you age, there are a number of preventative measures you can take. Your overall lifestyle has a large impact on how your respiratory system will fare over years. Keeping a diet that is low in processed foods and high in whole, antioxidant rich foods, and pairing that with regular exercise is extremely beneficial.
Quitting smoking is also one of the most important steps you can take toward keeping your lungs healthy and preventing the development of lung cancer. Attending routine cancer screenings and doctor’s visits is vital to maintaining good health overall, especially if it involves catching cancer or a lung ailment in its early stages.
You can also strengthen your lungs at home — listed below are a few ways you can do so.
Whether you are currently dealing with lung disease or not, part of maintaining the health of your lungs is taking the precautions necessary to avoid serious viral infections, especially during cold and flu season. Respiratory illness can lead to long-term damage of the lungs and airways, as well as exacerbate the symptoms of any existing ailments, such as asthma, COPD, or lung cancer. Make sure those you surround yourself with are feeling healthy prior to visiting. If you have to go out and about, practice good hygiene by regularly washing your hands, avoiding high-touch surfaces, and limiting how often you touch your face.
Lung health disparities, like lung cancer and other diseases, can wreak havoc on your body and create more health issues as you age. Staying vigilant in an effort to prevent lung cancer is incredibly important for living a happier and healthier life into older adulthood.
Risk Factors for Lung Cancer
There are a number of lung disparities that you may be born with, predisposed to, or develop as you grow older. Though lung cancer itself has no direct cause, there are several risk factors that may increase your chances of developing the cancer at some point in your lifetime. The most common link is smoking. According to the CDC, people who regularly smoke cigarettes are about 15 to 30 times more likely to get lung cancer than people who do not smoke. Using related tobacco products, like pipes and cigars, also enhances the risk for lung cancer.
While cigarette and tobacco smoking may be a leading risk factor for lung cancer, there are other potential causes as well. A longstanding family history of lung cancer may significantly increase your chances of developing the disease. Environmental and occupational exposures to certain chemicals or minerals like radon, arsenic, nickel, chromium, tar, and asbestos may also contribute to a lung cancer diagnosis.
Symptoms and Treatments of Lung Cancer
Symptoms of lung cancer can often be mistaken for something less serious, but new, changing, or worsening symptoms of an unknown cause should always be looked at by your doctor. Some common symptoms and early signs of lung disease include:
If you notice an onset of any of these symptoms, or have general concerns about your respiratory health, you should schedule a consultation with your doctor. They may begin with initial blood tests, CT scans, or MRIs to begin to find the source of your ailments. You may also need a biopsy should your tests show some sort of mass. Your doctor will also go through your history to see if there is anything you could have been exposed to that would lead to the development of lung cancer.
If it turns out that your symptoms are due to lung cancer, there are a variety of options for treatment. The plan of action put in place by your team of doctors and specialists will be dependent on the type of lung cancer, the stage of progression, the parts of the body it is affecting, and your overall health. Treatment might include surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiation, drug therapy, or any combination of these things. Your course of treatment also may change throughout your illness.
While the process of going through medical testing can be quite scary, it is important to work with your doctor and get to the source of the issue as soon as possible.
Types of Lung Cancers
Lung cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the lungs. Like any cancer, lung cancer can metastasize and spread to other areas of the body. Other rarer forms of cancer can also occur in the lungs or in the chest walls. Below are a few examples of lung and related cancers:
Early detection for lung cancer can greatly increase your chances of recovering and gives you the best number of options for treatment.
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