Health Spotlight: The Lungs

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Asthma
These days, more and more children are being diagnosed with asthma. This is due in part to our environment. It is full of pollution, cleaners and allergens (like pet dander, cigarette smoke, or pollen). In fact, an asthma attack will usually start when someone who has asthma comes into contact with one of these substances.

During an asthma attack the muscles around the tiny, branched airways in your lungs contract, or become inflamed (swell up), and partially close these airways. This causes difficulty breathing and a wheezing noise when this person breathes. Apart from these attacks, asthma also causes mucus to build up in the lungs, leading to a cough.

This condition can be kept under control with medicine. But, if it is allowed to go unchecked, asthma can be life threatening. In fact, around 180,000 people on this planet die from it every year. That is enough people to fill a small city. For this reason, if you or your children have asthma, it is very important to get medicine for it, and to continue to take the medicine once you have it. Also, if your child has asthma, their daycare center or school should have an action plan on file for them, just in case. If you have any further questions about asthma, contact your health care provider.

Lung Cancer

Lung cancer is the most common type of cancer in the world. In the United States, it is the leading cause of death for men, and the second leading cause of death for women. Also, Hispanics have a higher death rate than other races from this disease. This is in part because in the Hispanic population, lung cancer has a tendency to be diagnosed later. 

Some signs of lung cancer include:

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• Shortness of breath or chest pain
• Coughing up blood
• Weight loss, loss of appetite (don’t want to eat), and fatigue
• Wheezing or a change in coughing patterns
• Difficulty swallowing or a hoarse voice

If you or anyone you know is having these problems, then you (or they) need to see a doctor as soon as possible. The sooner you see a doctor and receive treatment, the better your chances for survival are.

Lung cancer can also be prevented by quitting smoking or never starting. The smoke and chemicals in cigarettes destroys the tissues in your lungs, and forces your body to continually repair it. This increases the chances that one of the cells will mutate (change) into a cancer cell and spread.

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If you are currently a smoker and would like help quitting, call the Tobacco Quitline at 1-866-784-8937, or contact the county health department.

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