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Protecting Your Lungs

Protecting Your Lungs

How are your lungs today?

The factors causing lung disease are numerous and interrelated – including heredity, overall health, geography, lifestyle habits such as smoking, exposure to second hand smoke, air pollution, radon and more. But with proper treatment, lifestyle modifications and support, these conditions are treatable. Lung disease shouldn’t take your breath away. Learn more about lung disease warning signs.

We understand that a diagnosis of lung cancer can be devastating for a patient and their family. Each year, more people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast and prostate cancers combined. The American Cancer Society estimates that 224,390 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed and about 158,080 deaths from lung cancer will occur in the U.S. in 2016.

It’s proven that the sooner lung cancer is discovered and treatment begins, the better the outcome. One way lung cancer is detected in its earliest and most treatable stages is with low-dose CT lung cancer screening. Learn more about CT lung screening.

This is all part of Buz Standefer Lung Center’s multidisciplinary team approach to diagnosis, treatment, planning, surgical intervention and recovery in a holistic manner – and we’re committed to providing state-of-the-science compassionate care to patients with lung cancer and their families. With a world-class lung center right here in Chattanooga, there’s no need to leave this community to receive the best and most advanced care.

Factors Leading to Lung Disease

Say No to Smoking. More than 16 million Americans live with a disease caused by smoking, the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. Of the nearly 7,000 chemicals in cigarette smoke, 70 are known carcinogens. Causing harm to almost every organ, smoking increases your risk for stroke, heart disease, and numerous cancers. For millions of people, breathing secondhand cigarette smoke can lead to lifelong health problems and even death. Simply living with a smoker can put your health in danger. Smoking is not only harmful to the individual, it is harmful to everyone who comes in contact with cigarette smoke.

Kick the Habit. CHI Memorial’s Rees Skillern Cancer Institute offers a free eight-week program called Freedom From Smoking ® that helps participants learn how to beat tobacco addiction, lifestyle changes that make quitting easier, stress management, how to avoid weight gain and how to stay smoke-free for good. Freedom From Smoking ® is an American Lung Association program that has helped more than one million Americans overcome an addiction to nicotine during the past 30 years. Call (423) 495-7778 to register for an upcoming class.

Radon. Radon is an invisible, naturally occurring gas (colorless, tasteless, odorless) that ranks second behind smoking as a cause of lung cancer. Exposure to radon and cigarette smoke creates a greater risk of lung cancer than either factor alone. Every home should be tested for it, since radon can be found in any home. If your residence has high radon, it can be fixed. Visit www.epa.gov/radon to learn more about indoor radon.

Asbestos. Asbestos was used as an insulator and fire retardant until it became known that its microscopic fibers cause disease, including cancer and asbestosis. Asbestosis is a disease that involves scarring of lung tissue from breathing in asbestos fibers. The lung tissues and the lining of the chest wall thicken and harden, and the scarring hinders breathing and reduces oxygen reaching the bloodstream. The disease worsens slowly over time. In some people the disease causes no symptoms, while in others it can cause severe symptoms. Today asbestos is a well-recognized, highly regulated health hazard. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) established regulations dealing with asbestos exposure on the job, specifically in construction work, shipyards, and general industry that employers are required to follow.

Air Quality. Chattanooga’s air quality has improved steadily over the years. But for certain populations, environmental air pollution can still cause breathing problems. Due to the large amount of industry found throughout the Tennessee Valley, the area was once the victim of significant pollution. A combination of lax restrictions and booming production led to air quality issues. As environmental protection standards became more stringent, Chattanooga’s level of air pollution decreased – and we’re all breathing easier.

For the elderly and populations suffering from conditions such as asthma, however, air pollution can still pose a health threat. Airborne pollutants ranging from particulate matter in the air to carbon monoxide can worsen preexisting conditions. Patients with heart disease and chronic lung diseases such as emphysema are also still at a very high risk for complications. These individuals should check air quality information regularly and stay indoors when conditions are poor. Chattanooga/Hamilton County Air Pollution Control Bureau at apcb.org.

At home, school, outdoors and at work, everyone should be aware of factors affecting air quality and take every reasonable step to avoid breathing heavily polluted air. For more about how you can better assure that you and your family is breathing healthy air indoors and out, visit lung.org.

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