AROUND 12.7 million people in the UK suffer with respiratory illness – but do you know the warning signs of serious lung diseases?
Despite spending £26million on lung research in the last 30 years, somebody still dies from lung disease every five minutes in the UK. About 10,000 people in Britain are newly diagnosed with a lung disease every week and it accounts for 20% of all deaths in the UK.
Lung diseases include asthma, bronchiectasis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, lung cancer, mesothelioma, obstructive sleep apnoea, pneumonia and sarcoidosis. Of all the lung diseases, lung cancer accounts for the most deaths in the UK – 31% in 2012. Yet, fairly little is known about the warning signs.
A nagging cough or a slight wheeze can go unnoticed if someone leads a very hectic life, but it’s important to know the symptoms to look out for.
Knowing the early warning signs can help you receive treatment before the disease becomes serious or even life-threatening. Here are six symptoms you should look out for:
1. Chronic cough
A cough that you have had for a month or longer is considered chronic. This is an important early symptom that tells you something is wrong with your respiratory system.
2. Shortness of breath
It’s not normal to experience shortness of breath that doesn’t go away after exercising, or that you have after little or no exertion. Labored or difficult breathing—the feeling that it is hard to breathe in out—is also a warning sign.
3. Chronic mucus production
Mucus, also called sputum or phlegm, is produced by the airways as a defense against infections or irritants. If your mucus production has lasted a month or longer, this could indicate lung disease.
Noisy breathing or wheezing is a sign that something unusual is blocking your lungs’ airways or making them too narrow.
5. Coughing up blood
If you are coughing up blood, it may be coming from your lungs or upper respiratory tract. Wherever it’s coming from, it signals a health problem.
6. Chronic chest pain
Unexplained chest pain that lasts for a month or more—especially if it gets worse when you breathe in or cough—also is a warning sign.
If you experience any of these warning signs, make an appointment with your GP as soon as possible. Early detection could save your life.