Every year, more than 349,000
 
people die from lung disease.
 
That is almost one in 12 people. Lung disease is the number three cause of death.

Out of the top six causes of death, it is the only disease that has risen over the past 30 years.
Lung disease and breathing problems is the number one killer of babies younger than one year old.
The lung disease death rate has been continuously increasing while death rates due to heart disease and cancer have been declining.
The number one cause of cancer death in women and men is due to lung cancer, yet funding far lacks that for breast and prostate
cancer.
Lung disease costs the American economy $81.6 billion in direct healthcare expenditures every year, plus indirect costs of $76.2 billion
– a total of more than $157.8 billion.  

There are many types of lung diseases including:
Chronic Obstructive Lung (Pulmonary) Disease (COPD): Asthma, Chronic Bronchitis, and Emphysema all affect a person’s airways and limit or
block the flow of air in or out of the lungs.
Infectious Lung Disease:  Pneumonia, Influenza, RSV and Tuberculosis (TB)—are infections caused by bacteria or viruses that affect the
membrane (or pleura) that surrounds the lungs.
Lung Cancer: A disease characterized by uncontrolled growth and spread of abnormal cells.
Respiratory failure, pulmonary edema, pulmonary embolism, and pulmonary hypertension:  These all interfere with the normal gas exchange
and blood flow in the lungs.
Occupational:  These include diseases such as mesothelioma and asbestosis.
Interstitial lung disease (ILD): Is a broad category of lung diseases that includes more than 130 disorders characterized by scarring (i.e.
“fibrosis”) and/or inflammation of the lungs.

ILD accounts for 15 percent of the cases seen by pulmonologists (lung specialists). Some of the known causes include:
Connective Tissue or Autoimmune Disease
Occupational and Environmental Exposures - inorganic dust, organic dust, gases and fumes
Drugs and Poisons – Chemotherapy mediations, antibiotics (rare), Radiation therapy
Infections – Residue of active infection of any type or ongoing chronic infections

When a person has ILD, the lung is affected in three ways. First, the lung tissue is damaged in some known or unknown way. Second, the walls of the air sacs in the lung become inflamed or irritated.  Finally, scarring (or fibrosis) begins in the tissue between the air sacs (the interstitium), and
the lung becomes stiff and it’s difficult to breathe in and out. Breathlessness during exercise (or even simple walking up stairs) can be one of the
first symptoms. A dry cough may also be present. Some interstitial lung diseases improve with medication if treated when inflammation occurs.
Many individuals suffering from ILD may need oxygen therapy as part of their treatment.  Prednisone or some other corticosteroid is frequently the
first medication used. Other therapies include: Investigational therapies, Pulmonary Rehab and in advanced cases Lung Transplant.

Just as there is no single cause for lung disease, there is often no single symptom of lung disease. Some conditions may send disease-specific
signals, such as the characteristic wheezing sound made as the asthma sufferer attempts to exhale. Other lung disorders, such as emphysema,
may be evidenced mainly by increasing shortness of breath. Soon, the slightest physical effort, something as simple as reaching for a coffee mug
from a cabinet, can result in a gasping for air. This oxygen deficiency denies the patient many of the simplest pleasures in life.  Other forms of lung
disease may be signaled by persistent cough, chest pain, shortness of breath, abnormal sputum production, bloody sputum, or any combination of
these symptoms. When an infectious agent causes a lung disease, there may also be fever and/or chills.  

Any suspicion that the lungs might be malfunctioning means that a person should seek medical attention.  Unfortunately, many of these symptoms
go unnoticed.  

* The above information is a compilation of information from The American Lung Association (www.lungusa.org)  and from The National Jewish Medical and Research
Center (www.nationaljewish.org).
The FACES Foundation
Family And Caregiver Education & Support
The FACES Foundation
is a 501(c)(3)
organization.
Benefiting the many 'FACES' of those dealing with pulmonary illnesses: patients, families and
caregivers, as well as the unsung heroes in the respiratory profession.