Respiratory Health in a Pandemic
The 21 – 27 June is Love Your Lungs Week 2022. Every year, the British Lung Foundation campaigns to raise awareness for lung health, and we are pleased to be supporting them.
Lung conditions affect over 10 million people in the UK, and over 6 million people regularly take prescribed lung medication every year. As the third biggest cause of death in the country, respiratory diseases must be taken extremely seriously.
Love Your Lungs Week is an especially important campaign in 2022 as the Covid-19 virus continues to be a danger to us, attacking the respiratory systems of those infected. Protecting your lungs has never been more important.
Even before the pandemic, lung conditions had a significant prevalence in the UK. As reported by Cancer Research UK, there were 47,838 cases of lung cancer between 2015-2017, and between 2016-2018, there were 35,137 deaths caused by it. The good news is, mortality rates for lung cancer have fallen over the last decade, and are projected to further decrease in the future.
On the other hand, cancer isn’t the only common respiratory risk. The combined statistics of other lung diseases present an even greater threat to life. Someone dies from lung disease every five minutes in the UK – totalling over 100,000 deaths each year. Thankfully, many of these conditions, such as asthma, pneumonia and COPD are treatable and manageable.
If you are living with one of these and require the use of our Inhaler Technique Service, click here.
At the moment, the lung disease currently on the nation’s mind is Covid-19. The ongoing pandemic has led to an extreme increase in the number of people experiencing and dying from respiratory illness in the UK.
After catching Covid-19, people are mostly hospitalised when it spreads to the lungs. Even after initial recovery, many patients experience long-term symptoms such as reduced lung function. This “long Covid” makes the virus especially threatening, as the true long-term effects are still unknown.
Although lockdowns are a thing of the past and much of the country is vaccinated, please continue to take the necessary precautions to keep yourself and others safe – nobody wants permanent lung or heart problems caused by the events of a single pandemic.
However, even before the pandemic, hospital admissions for lung admissions were rising three times faster than average. Covid-19 may have shone a spotlight on lung conditions, but it has always been important to curb its prevalence.
The Fight for Clean Air this Love Your Lungs Week
Most common lung diseases can be linked to issues with clean air in the UK. It is difficult to know precisely how many deaths are linked to air pollution, but King’s College London estimates it to be around 36,000 per year. This is partially why incidence and mortality rates were so high even before the pandemic.
Air pollution isn’t fatal on its own, but it can cause lung conditions that lead to death, as well as exacerbate existing ones. If children are exposed to air pollution, their lung development can be negatively impacted.
It’s hard to avoid unclean air, but there are steps you can take to minimise risk. On high pollution days, try to avoid busy streets and main roads, walk on the inside of the pavement, use back streets, and always carry your inhaler if you need one.
A personal choice you may want to consider is to quit smoking if you currently do so. While air pollution may be difficult to avoid, smokers can make a concerted effort to improve their lungs by committing to quit. This is certainly no easy task, but it’s important to consider your own agency in the face of macro factors such as the environment.
If you want to book an appointment with an Imaan pharmacy, or want more details on the conditions discussed in this post, please visit our locations page to find your local community pharmacy.