Lung disease refers to disorders of the lungs, which are the organs that allow us to breathe. Lung disease-related breathing problems may prevent the body from getting enough oxygen. There are numerous lung diseases of varying severity, but one thing is certain: the number of women developing and dying from lung diseases in the United States is rapidly increasing. Early detection leads to early treatment, which can help prevent the disease from progressing too rapidly.
Gender differences in diseases are common and can influence risk, prevalence, severity, treatment response, and many other aspects of pulmonary disease evaluation and management. Following are mentioned some of the most common lung diseases that affect women.
What are Lung Diseases?
The lungs are part of a system that never stops in order to bring oxygen into your body and expel carbon dioxide as you breathe. Lung disease or respiratory diseases can result from any disorder or problem in the respiratory system.
It can affect both men and women of any age. However, the number of female diagnoses is growing, making lung disease a major concern for women’s health. Lung disease involves a variety of conditions ranging from simple short-term inflammation of the airways to lung cancer with the possibility of death. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, and lung cancer are among the most common lung diseases in women.
Asthma is a chronic (ongoing) disease of the bronchial tubes, which are the airways in the lungs. Bronchial tubes are tubes that carry air into and out of the lungs. Asthma causes the walls of these airways to become inflamed (swollen) and oversensitive. Smoke, air pollution, mold, and many chemical sprays cause the airways to overreact. They can also be aggravated by allergens (such as pollen and dust mites) and respiratory diseases or infections (like the flu). The airways become narrower in response to the overreaction. This restricts the flow of air into and out of the lungs, making breathing difficult. Wheezing, coughing, and chest tightness are some of the symptoms of asthma.
Women are more likely than men to suffer from asthma and die as a result of it. In the United States, the percentage of women, particularly young women, who have asthma is increasing.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD):
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is an umbrella term for chronic bronchitis and emphysema. These conditions frequently coexist. Both diseases make breathing difficult by restricting airflow into and out of the lungs. COPD usually worsens over time.
COPD is characterize by ongoing inflammation of the bronchial tubes, which transport air into and out of the lungs. This irritation stimulates the growth of mucus-producing cells. Coughing is caused by excess mucus. The irritation causes the walls of the airways to thicken and scar over time. The airways may thicken to the point where airflow to and from the lungs is restrict. If this occurs, the condition is known as chronic obstructive bronchitis.
The lung tissue weakens and the walls of the air sacs (alveoli) deteriorate in emphysema. Typically, oxygen from the air enters the blood via the air sac walls. The ruined air sac walls of an emphysema patient mean that less oxygen can enter the blood—shortness of breath, coughing, and wheezing are the results.
It is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States and is one of the most common cancers worldwide. Lung cancer begins in the lungs, but it can spread to other organs or lymph nodes. There are various types of lung cancer and treatment options. Surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy are the most common treatment options. Lung cancer is lethal because it has no early symptoms, which means it has often spread by the time it is discover. Regular screening for lung cancer is not common, but some doctors use CT scans to detect the disease early. If you have any risk factors for lung disease or develop any symptoms, it is important to see a doctor.
Other Lung Conditions
Less common lung conditions in women include:
1. Pulmonary Emboli:
These are blood clots that travel from other parts of the body to the lungs and plug up blood vessels in the lungs. Being pregnant, having recently given birth, and using birth control pills or menopausal hormone therapy are all risk factors. Pulmonary emboli can disrupt blood flow in the lungs and reduce oxygen delivery to the body. Large emboli can result in sudden death.
2. Pulmonary Hypertension:
is high blood pressure in the arteries that supply blood to the lungs. It can potentially affect blood flow in the lungs and reduce oxygen flow into the blood.
3. Sarcoidosis and pulmonary fibrosis:
These inflammatory diseases cause pulmonary stiffening and scarring.
4. Lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM):
This is a rare lung disease that primarily affects women between the ages of 30 and 40. Muscle-like cells proliferate uncontrollably in some organs, including the lungs.
5. Pneumonia and influenza (the flu):
The flu is a viral respiratory disease or infection that can damage the lungs. People usually recover quickly from the flu, but it can be dangerous and even fatal for some people. Older people, young children, pregnant women, and people with certain health conditions, such as asthma, are at higher risk. Pneumonia is a serious lung inflammation caused by bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Fluid accumulates in the lungs, reducing the amount of oxygen available to the blood from the air we breathe in. Vaccines provide the most effective protection against influenza and pneumonia.
What Causes Lung Disease?
Finding all of the potential causes is challenging due to the diversity of lung diseases. Genetics, infections, and smoking are nevertheless common contributing factors. The flu and other lung diseases are brought on by bacteria or viruses. Exposure to harmful substances like smoke, air pollution, asbestos, or radon is a common cause of other lung or respiratory diseases. Your risk of developing lung disease increases with repeated exposure to any of these.
What is the Treatment for Lung Disease?
Because the cause, symptoms, and severity of lung disease can vary greatly, your treatment options will be determine by your condition. In general, treatment focuses on improving breathing and reducing symptoms. Identifying and treating the underlying cause can help to reduce inflammation and prevent lung tissue scarring.
Lung or respiratory diseases treatment typically consists of a combination of methods such as lifestyle changes, medication, steroids, oxygen therapy, and pulmonary rehabilitation. In severe and advanced cases, surgery may be require to remove lung tissue or to perform a lung transplant.
Lung diseases are no longer primarily associated with men. Women appear to be more vulnerable to the negative effects. It is the third leading cause of death for women in the United States. The majority of lung diseases are cause by smoking, infections, and genetics.
Your lungs are a complex system that expands and contracts thousands of times per day to take in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide. Lung disease can occur when any part of the respiratory system is faulty. It is important to consult your doctor about any symptoms you are experiencing.
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