If you’re the ‘one’ in the one in five people in the UK to develop asthma, COPD or another respiratory illness at some point in your life, it’s time to show your lungs some love!
This week is Breathe Easy Week, the British Lung Foundation’s annual awareness event focusing on lung health. The week is a chance for the organisation to highlight its life-changing research, campaigning work and support groups, and this year’s theme is ‘love your lungs’. According to the BLF:
- One person dies from lung disease every five minutes in the UK
- 10,000 people are diagnosed with a new lung condition every week
- More than 700,000 people are admitted to hospital each year due to a lung condition
- Of the people living with asthma, COPD or respiratory illness, half are on treatment such as using an inhaler
Whether you've lived with a lung condition for a while, or have recently received a diagnosis, it's vital to look after yourself properly and manage your condition well. The BLF says there are several ways in which you can improve your health and enjoy life, including a course of pulmonary rehabilitation (PR). Run by professionals such as physiotherapists and occupational therapists, and held in hospitals and health centres, PR is tailored towards your own needs and teaches you how to exercise safely.
When you’re short of breath, the idea of doing any kind of exercise can be scary, but, according to the BLF, being active can actually help your breathing and improve your quality of life. The organisation also recommends singing, with research increasingly showing that singing as part of a group is good for your health and wellbeing!
It’s also important to manage your mental wellbeing; having a long-term condition can understandably lead to stress and anxiety, but there is lots of support available to boost your mental health.
Even if you haven’t been diagnosed with a lung condition, Breathe Easy Week is the right time to think about lung health and how you can take the right steps now. A recent study by the BLF found that the average Brit feels short of breath - often gasping for air - six times a week, and that even light to moderate exercise has the potential to leave millions of adults breathless and struggling.
Four in 10 of those surveyed admitted to having to take a breather after running for a bus, while almost one in three - 30% - felt red in the face after climbing stairs. A quarter said they’d get out of breath during sex, while 16% said playing with a child would be enough to get them out of puff.
BLF director of patient services Mike McKevitt said: “It’s worrying that so many people found themselves out of breath performing simple actions. Breathlessness doing everyday tasks could be a symptom of lung disease and is something that shouldn’t be ignored. There are many people in the UK who may have a lung disease but do not have a diagnosis; who feel breathless daily, but have not been to the doctors. Lung health is so important to our overall wellbeing.”
The organisation has a simple online breath test you can use to check your lung health.
Having the right health insurance in place can also give vital peace of mind that you’ll receive a speedy diagnosis and treatment, should you face a lung condition in the future.
Breathe Easy Week runs until Sunday. And although we’re currently enjoying a warm spell, our winter ‘scarfies’ article has some useful advice on managing asthma, which you can follow all year round!