Take a deep, long breath.
Can you do that without pain, shortness of breath or coughing? If the answer is yes, be grateful. A growing number of people around the world cannot.
Chronic lung disease is becoming more and more of a problem worldwide. Asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, interstitial lung disease and other ailments fall into this category.
According to data from a global study, deaths from these and other lung diseases increased by 18% between 1990 and 2017. Nearly 4 million people died of one of these illnesses in 2017, up from 3.3 million in 1990. Researchers from China described the findings in an article published in the British Medical Journal.
The culprits driving this trend are not surprising. They are the predictable nemeses of respiratory health.
Obesity, air pollution and smoking each take a major toll on our lungs. Sadly, since 2013, obesity has taken over as the greatest contributor to asthma. And, in 2017, 1.4 million lung-disease deaths were caused by smoking.
Another great risk factor for chronic lung disease, and death from it, is living in a nation with poor socioeconomic status. Lack of access to health care and preventive resources drives up illness and deaths in these areas. And, for those who do get to a doctor, treatment often is not as good as in wealthier nations.
Age plays a major role, too. People age 70 or older saw the greatest increase in lung disease deaths.
While you can’t do anything about your age, you can protect your lungs. Don’t smoke, do your best to maintain a healthy weight and steer clear of air pollution as much as possible. Your lungs are worth it!