October is Healthy Lung Month, a good time to pay attention to those symptoms that could be the first signs of lung disease, including COPD, asthma, emphysema and lung cancer. Knowing the early warning signs can help you receive treatment before the disease becomes serious or even life threatening.
If you experience any of the following warning signs, make an appointment with your healthcare provider as soon as possible. Early detection could save your life.
Chronic cough: Any cough you’d had for a month or longer is considered chronic. It tells you something is wrong with your respiratory system.
Shortness of breath: If it occurs on an ongoing basis it’s a sign of a problem. Labored or difficult breathing – where you have problems breathing in and out – is another warning sign.
Heavy mucus production: Mucus is produced by the airways as a defense against infections or irritants. Lasting longer than a month could indicate lung disease.
Wheezing: This is a sign that something is blocking your lungs’ airways or making them too narrow.
Coughing up blood: It can signal a serious health problem.
Chronic chest pain: Unexplained chest pain needs to be checked out immediately.
In addition to catching lung disorders early, this can be a difficult time for those allergic to pollen, mold, ragweed and other outdoor allergens that occur at this time of year. Common lung irritants are also found indoors, including natural allergens in the home like pet dander, dust mites, and mold. Here are a few things you can do:
Clean the Air: Buy a vacuum with a HEPA filter to reduce lead, chemical build-up, and natural allergens in the home.
Green Your Space: Adding indoor plants can help purify the air, removing such toxins as formaldehyde, benzene, toluene, and xylene. Spider plants and aloe vera plants are recommended.
Go Natural: Fragrances found in cleaning products, laundry detergents, and air fresheners can all damage the lungs. Instead, opt for fragrance-free whenever possible.
Test for Radon: Make sure your home has a radon detector. This colorless, odorless gas is the second leading cause of lung cancer today (next to cigarette smoke).