World Lung Day is on the 25th of September 2021 and this year, we all need to take our lung health more seriously; these are some care tips from Tell.
South Africa (22 September 2021) – Covid has placed the focus on what it means to be healthy and especially looking after your health. With more people suffering from long Covid and those who do contract the virus having difficulty breathing or ending up intubated, the theme of this year’s World Lung Day: “Care for your lungs” could not have been more fitting. The Forum of International Respiratory Societies (FIRS) states the following about taking care of your lungs:
Say no to tobacco
Tobacco causes 8 million deaths every year and is the main cause of many lung diseases. Tobacco smoke contains more than 4,000 chemicals, many of which are toxic and can cause cancer. Stopping smoking is the best way to improve your lung health and overall health.
Protect them through vaccination
Getting vaccinated can protect you from lots of different infectious diseases and help you keep your lungs healthy. Pneumococcal pneumonia, COVID-19, influenza and whooping cough are examples of respiratory infections that can be prevented by vaccination.
Vaccination can also help to protect other people. People can be protected if those close to them (like friends and family members) and enough people in their communities (including healthcare professionals) are vaccinated, because it stops infections from spreading.
Breathe clean air
Air pollution has a negative impact on human health and exposure to it can affect 100% of the population, from unborn babies to the very elderly. The lungs are the first point of entry for air pollution into the body and are therefore the first affected organ.
When you exercise, your heart beats faster and your lungs work harder. Your body needs more oxygen to fuel your muscles. Your lungs step up their activity to deliver that oxygen while expelling additional carbon dioxide. In addition, your lungs expand during exercise compared to when not exercising, preventing compression of lower lung areas.
Shaun McLaughlin knows all too well what it means to not be able to breathe with ease, he was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis at an early age. This chronic condition eventually damaged his lungs to such an extent that he needed a double lung transplant. Shaun was on the waiting list for a new pair of lungs for two years, during which time he was on oxygen 24/7. Just to climb a flight of stairs seemed like an impossible task. Shaun was one of the lucky patients that survived long enough to receive a double lung transplant in 2011. Four years after his transplant, Shaun became a dad to twin girls.
Due to Shaun’s Cystic Fibroses, the couple made use of assisted reproductive technology (ART) to conceive the twins. He is a doting father and can do all the activities a dad would want to do with his family thanks to a donor family giving consent to organ donation.
Successful Lung Transplantation is one of the more challenging areas in the field of transplantation; this is largely due to the complexity and length of the operation. The fact that most of the surface area of the lung is separated from the environment by a mere layer of cells (a few microns thick). The lung with its associated lymph nodes and specialised alveolar macrophage system is one of the body’s largest immune organs capable of eliciting a brisk and robust immune response to antigen challenge. Lung transplant as a treatment option for certain diseases and conditions started in 2000 in Johannesburg private sector and Groote Schuur Hospital (Cape Town) is the only public hospital that offers lung transplants to state patients.
This world lung day take a moment, take a deep breath and think about all the people that are not able to. Look after your lungs. If you would like to discuss these tips further, reach out to Tell, a transplant education platform dedicated to raising awareness in South Africa.