How to Prevent Chronic Respiratory Diseases

How to Prevent Chronic Respiratory Diseases

Chronic respiratory diseases are diseases that affect the airways and structures of the lung. Chronic means a condition that is an ongoing and long-term, as opposed to acute conditions which often come on suddenly and can be severe. Chronic conditions sometimes begin in childhood and can take decades to become fully established. This means there are multiple opportunities to try and prevent them.

What are chronic respiratory diseases?

Chronic respiratory diseases (CRDs) include COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), asthma, pulmonary hypertension, sleep apnoea and occupational lung disease. Lung cancer is also a chronic condition.

Common symptoms include: coughing; wheezing; difficulty breathing; pain in the chest or throat; hyperventilating or bleeding from the respiratory passages. They can lead to serious problems of the circulatory and respiratory systems, including pleurisy, asphyxia and cardiorespiratory failure.

The statistics

Chronic respiratory diseases have a huge impact on people’s health around the world. Estimates suggest that more than three million people die each year from COPD, accounting for 6% of all deaths worldwide. Ninety per cent of these deaths occur in low and middle-income countries. Asthma affects around 300 million people around the world, many of them children and 250,000 people die from the condition each year.

In recognition of the impact of chronic respiratory diseases around the world, the World Health Organisation formed the WHO Global Alliance against CRDs. It points out that hundreds of millions of people suffer from respiratory conditions that are preventable and which can have a major impact on a person’s quality of life. It is calling for prevention and management to be more co-ordinated to try and reduce the impact of chronic respiratory diseases around the world.

Risk factors

Certain factors increase the chances of developing chronic respiratory disease including:

  • Tobacco smoke
  • Dust
  • Air pollution
  • Chemicals

10 ways to help prevent chronic respiratory diseases

There are some simple steps that you can take to reduce your risk of developing a chronic lung disease, including lung cancer. Here are our top 10 prevention tips:

1. Avoid smoking – Smoking tobacco is the number one risk factor for chronic lung diseases like COPD and lung cancer. Tobacco smoke releases many harmful substances into your lungs including toxins and carcinogens. If you smoke, you can get help to quit.

2. Be aware of passive smoking – In recent years people have become more aware of the dangers of passive smoking – breathing in other people’s tobacco smoke. You are also at risk of residual tobacco fumes that can adhere to furniture and even walls so avoid staying in hotel rooms that allow smoking.

3. Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze – This helps to avoid spreading germs. Ideally use a tissue and then throw it away. If you can, avoid crowds during peak cold and flu season.

4. Handwashing is a simple technique that can help to prevent the spread of cold and flu germs.

5. Be aware of the dangers of open fires. As lovely as they look, burning wood and waste can cause serious damage to your lungs. Ideally switch to cleaner fuels or avoid open fires.

6. Exercise for 30 minutes a day to improve lung function and boost metabolism. This can be as simple as going for a walk or taking the stairs instead of the lift.

7. Turn off your engine if you are sitting in traffic to minimise air pollution.

8. Wear a mask if you are exposed to particulates that can irritate your lungs, including dust, smoke, fumes, gases or chemicals. If you are using paint or chemicals, always wear a mask.

9. Check your home for radon – This is a naturally-occurring radioactive gas that is the second leading cause of lung cancer after smoking.

10. See your doctor if you have a persistent cough, wheezing, pain when breathing or coughing when you exercise.

Diagnosis and treatment of respiratory disorders | Berkshire

Prompt diagnosis of chronic lung diseases is important. Even though conditions may not be curable there is a range of different treatments to manage the symptoms and the earlier you begin, the more effective these are likely to be.

For your appointment there is a choice of locations:

BMI The Chiltern Hospital – London Road, GREAT MISSENDEN, HP16 0EN

Spire Thames Valley Hospital – Wexham Street, Wexham, SLOUGH, SL3 6NH

BMI The Princess Margaret Hospital – 39-42 Osborne Road, WINDSOR, SL4 3SJ

If you have any questions or would like to discuss your treatment options with a specialist, please contact the team to book an initial consultation.