The lungs are the primary organs of respiration in the body.
We are sure you’ve heard about ‘breathing in oxygen and breathing out CO2’, the lung does that magic. The importance of early detection of any kind of lung disease cannot be overemphasized as it can help protect you from damaging health conditions.
Healthy lungs are very crucial in keeping every organ of your body functioning optimally. They work continually as you breathe in air, so it is pertinent to keep them healthy and not diseased.
Healthy lungs take in oxygen when you breathe and pass it along to the bloodstream, which is then transported to organs and cells of your body.
As you breathe out, healthy lungs expel carbon dioxide from your body.
But the number of people suffering from lung diseases is on the increase.
More than 11 million people in America have been diagnosed with a chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a group of lung disease that makes it difficult to breathe out of the lungs due to narrowed airways; this is according to the American Lung Association.
The association also reports that another 12 to 24 million people may have COPD because they do not know the early warning signs
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Along with COPD, there are other common lung diseases such as bronchitis, tuberculosis, asthma, cystic fibrosis, and emphysema.
Smokers and people who are frequently exposed to cigarette smoke or other irritants are at a much higher risk of developing a lung disease.
Although other factors can predispose you to lung disease; they include infections, exposure to allergens (including dust mites and pet dander), air pollution, sawdust, workplace fumes or other aerosolized particles.
To keep your lungs healthy, you must pay attention to these early warning signs that indicate some lung problems.
Early detection can help protect your lungs from severe damage and reduce the risk of chronic lung disease including lung cancer.
Here are some warning signs that indicate your lungs could be in trouble.
1. Chronic Cough
Coughing helps protect your airways from inhaled irritants and helps get rid of phlegm, (mucus) from your breathing passages.
But a persistent cough could be an indication that something is wrong with the functionality of your lungs.
In fact, one of the early warning signs of unhealthy lungs is usually a persistent cough that doesn’t improve even after taking medications.
Another indication while coughing is that you experience chest pain that extends up into your shoulder or down your arm. If you develop a chronic or an ongoing cough for no just reason, see your physician for examination.
Sometimes, excess mucus could be the problem, in that case, keeping your body properly hydrated with water and fluids which will help thin the mucus so your body can expel it.
2. Increased Mucus Production
Coughing goes hand in hand with the secretion of mucus or phlegm most of the time.
Normally, mucus helps prevent germs, dirt, pollen, and bacteria from getting stuck in the lungs.
But when you constantly secrete mucus that is not as a result of a cold or other common illness, it could be a warning sign.
Another sign is that there are changes in the color, thickness, amount or even smell of the mucus. In fact, if your mucus changes from clear to yellow or green or it contains blood, it is a clear indication that something is definitely wrong with your lungs.
If you see blood in your mucus, it could be a sign of lung cancer, emphysema or chronic bronchitis. Consult your doctor about your symptoms for proper diagnosis.
3. Breathing Problems
If you experience difficulty breathing, even while performing your regular daily activity, it’s a warning sign that something is wrong with your lungs.
Labored breathing or difficulty in breathing usually occurs when your lungs have to work harder than usual to push air in and out. It could also be as a result of blockage of the airways.
When you experience this kind of signs, do not disregard it to consult your doctor immediately for examination immediately.
If it does not require a medical solution, you can exercise daily to build your stamina and strength.
A wheezing sound is a clear indication that your airways are narrowing. Due to narrowed airways, air doesn’t pass through your lungs as fast as it should resulting in a wheezing sound when you breathe.
Persistent wheezing could be a warning sign of emphysema or asthma. It could also be a sign of lung cancer.
Don’t treat it with levity; you should see your doctor to rule out any possibility of a severe lung disease or damage.
5. Sleeping Problems
If you have difficulty sleeping on a bed due to troubled breathing or you are more comfortable sleeping in a chair, then it has something to do with your lungs.
If you lie flat on a bed, it can make your lungs work harder. This can seriously affect your sleep quality.
Also, intermittent coughing while asleep interrupts deep sleep.
A single disturbance of your sleep can affect your mental and physical health.
On that note, if you wake up in the night with breathing difficulties or intermittent coughing, see your doctor.
Feeling excessively tired even after getting quality sleep could be another sign that something is wrong with your body. This could indicate a lung problem.
When your lungs are not working optimally, you may get tired more easily than you did in the past. Also, you seem to lose your strength even when following a healthy lifestyle
You may be wondering how this relates to fatigue. If your lungs are not delivering sufficient oxygen to your tissues and cells of your body, other bodily systems start suffering, and all this can take a toll on your energy level.
In that case, having low energy starts a vicious cycle. Fatigue prevents you from exercising, and lack of exercise takes a toll on your stamina.
7. Morning Headaches
If all of a sudden you start waking up with a throbbing headache and dizziness, you need to see your physician.
A lung problem like COPD can cause morning headaches after a night’s sleep. Now, this happens because you were not breathing enough while sleeping, leading to accumulation of carbon dioxide in your body.
Accumulation of carbon dioxide causes dilatation of blood vessels in the brain, which results in a throbbing headache.
8. Swelling in the Lower Body
Maybe you never knew swelling, tenderness, and pain in your legs or feet could be an indication of some problem with your lungs.
Importantly, when your lungs do not function optimally, your circulatory system does not get the required oxygen it needs to be healthy and keep fluids moving through your body.
This often results in fluid accumulation, leading to swollen feet and ankles.
Also, when your lung does not function properly, your heart cannot pump enough blood to supply the kidneys and liver.
What does this entail? It means that the liver and kidney are not able to detoxify and flush toxins from your system as they should. This ultimately results in swelling in the body.
To reduce this swelling, keep your feet or legs elevated. If symptoms are getting worse by the day, please see your doctor.
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