Elderly people are always at more of a risk for health problems than younger people. As we age, our tissues wear out and cannot function like they used to. When respiratory tissues wear out, they are not able to exchange gas like they used to, causing a lack of oxygen and many other health problems. There are many lung diseases common to senior citizens, with some being preventable. Many of the symptoms of respiratory diseases overlap and can make diagnosis difficult.
Sleep disordered breathing and asthma are two of the least dangerous lung conditions that elderly people can have. Sleep disordered breathing is a type of obstructive sleep apnea, but has been found to commonly go hand-in-hand with more serious conditions such as heart failure, COPD, diabetes or cerebrovascular disease. For sleep apnea alone, the treatment is a cPAP machine that delivers a steady supply of oxygen while the patient is sleeping.
Asthma often goes undiagnosed in older people and therefore untreated because of the significant overlap with the symptoms of more severe conditions. It can become serious if left untreated, however. Bronchial asthma is common and is essentially inflamed bronchioles that are over-reactive to stimuli. Eventually, bronchial asthma’s mucosal generation and inflamed tissues can lead to blocking the airways. This can be reversed through medication if caught early enough and proper medication is taken. Otherwise, bronchial asthma can become irreversible.
The more serious common lung diseases are COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), PE (pulmonary embolism), CAP (community-acquired pneumonia) and lung cancer.
Preventing respiratory diseases, regardless of the severity of the disease, involves:
- Maintaining a healthy diet – This is essential to building your immune system and preventing the development of numerous disease, including lung diseases.
- Adequate rest – getting plenty of sleep helps the body’s immune system fight diseases in the body.
- Adequate exercise – will keep your respiratory muscles strong and strengthen your heart.
- Education – educating yourself will give you an edge on the latest prevention techniques and help you feel less anxious about your respiratory health.
- Do not smoke and if you already do, STOP!
- Avoid exposure to second-hand cigarette smoke and noxious chemicals or fumes – Cigarettes are most commonly linked to COPD, as most cases of COPD are caused from cigarette smoke. However, coal miners and many other factory workers are exposed daily to noxious chemicals and/or fumes that harm their respiratory organs.
Taking care of ourselves and preventing common lung diseases will help not only senior citizens, but also an entire population, as increased incidents of lung disease causes higher health insurance rates for everyone. Following the above preventative tips can therefore help not only you, but all citizens.