Today, September 25th, is World Lung Day. The theme for World Lung Day this year is Respiratory Infection. The outbreak of the global Coronavirus pandemic has made the world aware of just how deadly respiratory viruses can be. In reality, respiratory infections have been among us long before the Coronavirus.

According to the World Health Organization, Chronic Respiratory Diseases are defined as diseases of the airways and other structures of the lung. Some of the most common are chronic pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, occupational lung diseases and pulmonary hypertension. Many risk factors for chronic respiratory diseases have been identified and can be prevented. The biggest risk factors include tobacco smoke, second-hand tobacco smoke and other indoor air pollutants, allergens, and occupational agents. Chronic Respiratory Diseases are not curable however, various forms of treatment can help amplify major air passages and improve shortness of breath.  They can help control symptoms and increase the quality of life for people living with the disease.

Apart from viruses, there are many other sources of respiratory infection that cause human disease. These include bacteria, fungi and other organisms which may infect the upper airways (nose, sinuses, and throat) and lower airways and lungs. They can cause lung related symptoms such as coughing, difficulty breathing, chest pain and breathlessness.

How do we prevent respiratory infections?

We can prevent many respiratory infections be vaccination. Vaccines for influenza, pneumococcal pneumonia, measles, tuberculosis, and whooping cough are widely used. Some infections, such as the flu and COVID-19, are spread by touching infected surfaces and then touching one’s nose or mouth, so hand washing is vital for prevention. Other infections are spread by breathing in the germ either from exposure to others who are infected or from the air. In these cases, wearing a mask and social distancing are highly effective to preventing transmission.  Avoiding tobacco and other pollutants is extremely important, as well as keeping good health and nutrition.

We hope that you use World Lung Day 2020 to educate yourself on the importance of lung health and respiratory diseases and how to keep yourself healthy. Here’s to good lung health for you and your family!