October is Healthy Lung Month
Breathing for most of us is something we do without being aware of it. We pay no attention to this continuous activity as we work, play, or sleep. Our lungs are responsible for this essential natural function that gets oxygen into the bloodstream so that it can be delivered to the cells of our body.
During a normal day, we breathe nearly 25,000 times. The more than 10,000 liters of the air we inhale are mostly oxygen and nitrogen. In addition, there are small amounts of other gases, floating bacteria, and viruses. It also contains the products of tobacco smoke, automobile exhaust, and other pollutants from the atmosphere in varying amounts.
Air pollutants can affect our lungs in many ways. They may simply cause irritation and discomfort. But sometimes inhaled materials can cause illness or death. The lungs have a series of built-in mechanical and biological barriers that keep harmful materials from entering the body. In addition, specific defense mechanisms can inactivate some disease-causing materials.
Our lungs can be affected by almost anything—from pet dander and everyday dust to air pollution and smoking. As a result, more than 30 million people live with a form of lung disease and approximately 20 million Americans suffer from asthma.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, asthma is the leading cause of long-term illness in children. Focusing on lung-health issues, especially asthma, tobacco control, and environmental health, the American Lung Association provides information on lung-related illnesses and treatments, preventive measures, indoor air pollution, and the effects of secondhand smoke.