As you breathe, you take in the oxygen needed to allow your pulmonary system to function. However, with every breath you take, your lungs are also exposed to airborne bacteria, viruses and allergens, all of which can potentially cause lung disorders.
Although minor irritants may only affect your breathing temporarily, but long-term exposure to irritants can cause severe lung damage and greatly endanger your respiratory health.
Causes Of Lung Disease
Some of the common causes for lung disease include:
Smoke from cigarettes, cigars, and pipes is the number one cause of lung disease. Passive smoking, also known as second-hand smoke is equally harmful and is especially bad for babies and young children. Smoking increases the risk of lung disease, including lung cancer. Risks from smoking, as they relate to lung disease, include the following:1
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
COPD2 is rapidly becoming a global public health crisis with smoking being recognized as it’s most important causative factor. COPD includes:
It is a long-term inflammation of the bronchi (large airways), and is characterized by coughing mucus over a long period of time. The most effective available treatment for COPD is smoking cessation.
Tobacco smoke also damages the air sacs in the lungs. Over a certain period of time this leads to progressive loss of lung function and a condition known as emphysema.3
Smoking, including second-hand smoke, is the leading cause of lung cancer. According to studies, ninety percent of all lung cancer deaths in women smokers are attributable to smoking.
Stopping smoking reduces the risk of lung cancer, compared to continuing to smoke. The sooner a smoker quits smoking, the better it is. People who stop smoking, even well into the middle age, avoid most of the subsequent risks of lung cancer.
2. Radon Gas Exposure
Radon is a colorless, odorless, radioactive gas. Radon is present outdoors and indoors. It can be found at higher levels in the outdoor air, in confined air spaces, particularly in underground work areas such as mines and buildings, are exposed to elevated concentrations of radon. Although high concentrations of radon in groundwater may also contribute to radon exposure through ingestion.
This colorless, odorless gas is a recognized cause of lung cancer. Radon decays quickly, giving off tiny radioactive particles. When inhaled, these radioactive particles can damage the cells that line the lungs. Long-term exposure to radon can lead to lung cancer.4
3. Asbestos Fibers
Asbestos-related lung diseases are caused by exposure to asbestos fibers. Asbestos is a natural mineral fiber that is used in insulation, fireproofing materials, car brakes, and other products. Asbestos can give off small fibers that are too small to be seen and can be inhaled. Asbestos harms lung cells, causing lung scarring and lung cancer.5
4. Air Pollution
Pollutants in the air are often invisible, but they can have serious effects on our health.6 Air pollutants,7 like car exhaust may contribute to lung diseases such as:
- Asthma – Common outdoor pollutants that can trigger asthma include ozone, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides.
- Lung cancer – Air pollution is associated with an increased risk of lung cancer. Particulate matter and ozone in particular may affect mortality due to lung cancer.
|↑1||U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Preventing Tobacco Use Among Young People: A Report of the Surgeon General. Atlanta, Georgia:National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health, 1994.|