We rarely think about breathing except when it’s hard to do. That’s why the entire month of October is devoted to Healthy Lung Month, an annual event. Many organizations have joined forces to educate the public about the importance of protecting our lungs against general neglect, bronchitis, mold, air pollution, and smoking. Bottom line: If we take care of our lungs, our lungs will take care of us.
Healthy Lung Month - History
Dr. Joel D. Cooper made medical history by performing the first double lung transplant.
First heart-lung transplant
Stanford's Dr. Bruce Reitz successfully performed the first heart-lung transplant on a female patient.
First human lung transplant performed
The very first human lung transplant was performed at the University of Mississippi, with the patient, a convicted murderer, surviving for 18 days after the operation.
Early medical theory
A Dutch scientist called Fabricus believed that the function of the lungs was to prepare air for the heart so it could beat.
Two scientists compared lungs to canals
Marcello Malphigi, an Italian specializing in anatomy, and Thomas Willis, an English clinician, both believed that lungs functioned like a system of canals comprised of membranes, air passages, and blood vessels.
How to Observe Healthy Lung Month
Building up lung capacity can take a little time. But once you do, your efforts will pay off with an improved ability to breathe deeper and longer. Celebrate Healthy Lung Month by starting on a regular exercise regimen. Mix it up with swimming, long walks, or dancing. Go easy and slowly build up to a schedule that works for you and your lungs.
2. Get a check-up
The best way to know if your lungs are functioning properly is to check in with your doctor. Discuss any shortness of breath and be honest about any symptoms. Pretending that symptoms don't exist won't make them go away. With a good bill of health and an action plan for better lung maintenance, you'll breathe easier in October and beyond.
3. Clean your house
Lots of people have allergies, especially to dust and animal dander. Make sure that you are regularly dusting your house, washing your blankets and rugs, and brushing your dogs and cats for any excess hair they shed. Change your household cleaners to gentler, non-toxic varieties. They may cost more but in the long run, you'll be helping yourself and the environment.
5 Lung Facts To Help You Breathe Easier
1. They take in a lot of air
During a normal day we breath nearly 25,000 times according to the National Institutes of Health.
2. Animals' lungs are different
Most animals with spines are called vertebrates and they usually have not one, but two lungs.
3. You can get by with only one
Having only one won't stop you from living a pretty normal life.
4. They're different sizes
Because of your heart, the right lung is larger than the left lung.
5. They float
Human lungs have that rare quality of being the only organs that can float on water.
Why Healthy Lung Month is Important
A. October pollen
Millions of people with lung problems struggle with pollen during the entire month of October. Raking up dry leaves and working outside in unstable weather makes people susceptible to asthma and bronchitis. Anything that interferes with the lungs' job of circulating oxygen throughout our bodies can cause lungs to fail.
B. Learn why smoking is deadly
Make a commitment to stop smoking. Respiratory conditions like COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) and asthma can end up as lung cancer. Smoking exacerbates the blockage of clean air to the lungs. Give your lungs a break and quit smoking once and for all.
C. Know the warning signs
If you have a cough that won't go away, see your doctor. It may be nothing but it could be an early warning sign of a respiratory condition affecting your lungs. Other symptoms include tightness of the chest, wheezing, and ongoing shortness of breath, especially when physically exerting yourself. During Healthy Lung Month in October, discover community resources (many at low or no cost) that can help you breathe easy for years to come.