When we are healthy, we tend to take our breathing for granted. We live everyday never fully giving thanks to the fact that our lungs are essential organs for life. This can all change when we discover that our lungs have become impaired. If our lungs are not working properly, nothing else but our ability to breathe matters. Unfortunately, this is the sad truth for many who suffer from a lung disease.
People of all ages and from every corner of the world can have lung disease, killing millions every year and causing millions more to suffer from these conditions. There are a number of factors that can cause a person to suffer from lung disease, but the real kicker is the fact that most of these health issues are avoidable and treatable. In this blog, we focus on the shape of lung disease around the world.
What Types of Lung Disease Are Being Treated Worldwide?
In case you did not know, a lung disease is any problem in the lungs that prevents these organs from properly working. A lung disease can consist of any problem with the airways, tissue or blood vessels located in the lungs. Make no mistake, lung diseases can be found just about anywhere on the planet, especially in low and middle income countries. According to the American Thoracic Society (ATS), these are the top five conditions effecting countries and people throughout the world:
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) – COPD is a progressive form of lung disease ranging from mild to severe. It is characterized by a restriction of airflow into and out of the lungs that makes breathing difficult. COPD affects more than 200 million people around the world and is the fourth leading cause of death.
- Asthma – Asthma is a chronic lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways. Close to 235 million people around the world suffer from this breathing condition, with a major increase appearing over the last three decades.
- Acute respiratory infections – Respiratory infections account for more than 4 million deaths annually and are the leading cause of death in most developing countries. This can include pneumonia and other conditions that make it difficult for a person to correctly breathe.
- Tuberculosis (TB) – TB is a condition that is caused by an infection in the lungs. While there is a vaccine for tuberculosis, this disease is still found in certain areas around the world.
- Lung cancer– Lung cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the lungs and can spread to the surrounding areas of the lungs. This disease can contribute to a decrease in lung efficiency and ability to fight the condition.
Lung Disease Around the World: By the Numbers
Living in the United States it can be difficult to hear about other medical conditions affecting the world, especially lung disease. The true realization though is that many countries and people are suffering from the effects of severe lung conditions. The World Health Organization reports that chronic respiratory diseases can be attributed to 7 percent of all deaths worldwide. A majority of this number includes the old, the young and the weak. Believe it or not, the numbers get a lot more detailed.
Here are a few numbers that might surprise you about the effect of lung disease in the world:
- Almost 90 percent of COPD deaths occur in low or middle income countries. More than 4 million people died from COPD alone in 2005.
- Asthma causes 180,000 deaths each year. With this number expected to increase in the next several years.
- In children under 5 years of age, pneumonia accounts for 18 percent of all deaths, or more than 1.3 million annually.
- In 2011, there were about 8.7 million new cases of TB. This disease killed 1.4 million people and took an extraordinary high toll in different parts of Africa.
- Lung cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the world, affecting over 1.61 million people every year. Lung cancer is also the most common cause of cancer death, killing 1.37 million per year.
What Can Be Done about Lung Disease Around the World?
So what can be done to combat the increasing effect of lung disease around the world? Unfortunately, we cannot just wish away lung disease, but there are movements that can help draw awareness to the cause. The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) recommends a few ideas that will ultimately help the approach to lung disease, such as:
- Public awareness on the topics.
- Corporations and governments working together to further research lung conditions.
- Implementing actual healthcare to countries that suffer from chronic lung diseases.
If you want to understand lung disease further, do some research online to see what current organizations are doing to help understand and treat lung disease. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with lung disease and want to learn more about treatment options, please contact us or call (800) 729-3065 today. *Please note that not all lung conditions mentioned in this article are treated by the Lung Institute.