The number of women in the United States diagnosed with lung disease is on the rise, according to the Office of Women’s Health, part of the Department of Health and Human Services. It also reports more women are dying from lung disease.
“Even women who have never smoked need to be concerned about lung disease,” says Pamela Sud, M.D., pulmonologist at CHI Memorial Buz Standefer Lung Center.
““When you have difficulty breathing, it affects all aspects of your life. All women should know the risk factors for developing lung disease and take steps to reduce their risk.” Dr. Sud says asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and lung cancer are some of the most common lung disease affecting women.
Early signs of lung disease are sometimes overlooked. Dr. Sud says common warning signs include trouble breathing, shortness of breath, a cough that won’t go away, coughing up blood or mucus, and feeling like you can’t get enough air. She says these symptoms should not be ignored and you should contact your doctor if you have any of these warning signs.
The number of women diagnosed with lung cancer is increasing. Statistics show more women die of lung cancer than any other cancer. In 1987, it surpassed breast cancer as the leading cause of cancer deaths among women in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The agency estimated more than 70,000 women died from lung and bronchus cancer in 2013. Dr. Sud says most women with early stage lung cancer do not experience warning signs. “By the time you notice symptoms, the cancer is usually more advanced.”
The CDC lists smoking as the number one risk factor for lung cancer. Doctors may recommend an annual low dose lung CT scan for women with a history of smoking. Check with your primary care physician to see if you qualify so the scan can be arranged.
Women can take the following actions to reduce their risk of developing lung disease:
Stop smoking – “Quitting smoking is one of the most important steps you can take,” says Dr. Sud. “It will improve your overall health and quality of life as well as protect those around you from secondhand smoke, another major risk factor.”
Test home for radon – Radon is an odorless, tasteless gas that comes from rocks and soil. It causes about 20,000 cases of lung cancer each year, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The CDC reports nearly one out of every 15 homes in the US could have high radon levels.
Avoid asbestos. Asbestos exposure can cause scarring of the lungs, lung cancer, and other serious lung disease.
Protect yourself from dust and chemical fumes. Dust and chemicals can increase the risk of developing lung disease. Products like paints and solvents can aggravate lung disease.
Carefully follow product instructions and make sure your work area is well-ventilated.
Eat a healthy diet. Studies shows diets that include a lot of fruits and vegetables can help lower your risk of cancer, according to The National Cancer Institute. Studies have shown drinking green tea can reduce the risk of developing lung cancer.
For more information or to make an appointment, call CHI Memorial Lung Care Associates, part of the CHI Memorial Buz Standefer Center, at (423) 495-2635. CHI Memorial Lung Care Associates has two locations at 725 Glenwood Drive, Suite E-500, Chattanooga, TN 37404 and 2051 Hamill Road, Suite 301, Hixson, TN 37343.