The official blog of the Lung Institute.
Women are amazing at a great number of things. We run companies, save lives, and change the world every single day. We are also exceptionally good at dying of chronic lung diseases.
Kicking off on Mother’s Day, the nation gathers to celebrate the health of women. National Women’s Health Week is an opportunity for women to learn what steps they can take to improve their health. This week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health and the Lung Institute hope to educate women on issues they may face and to empower women to make their health a priority.
Understanding Women and Lung Disease
For many years, it has been assumed that men are the primary targets of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is an umbrella term that is used to encompass lung diseases such as chronic bronchitis and emphysema. These conditions often leave sufferers struggling to breathe. Previous research and statistics have supported the notion that lung disease is primarily a man’s disease, but new studies have now shown that women may actually be affected by lung disease to a greater extent.
- Women are 37 percent more likely to have COPD than men.
- Women also account for more than half of all deaths attributed to COPD in the United States.
- Female smokers are nearly 13 times more likely to die from COPD compared to women who have never smoked.
- Females are approximately twice as likely to be diagnosed with chronic bronchitis as men.
- Women who present identical symptoms as men to a physician are less likely to be diagnosed with COPD.
Prioritizing Your Health
Due to a negative stigma that COPD is a smoker’s disease, many people fail to reach out and seek help when they begin to experience symptoms. This can, and may, lead to the large number of individuals who are dealing with undiagnosed COPD. Statistics show that women with COPD are more likely to be hospitalized, which could result from years of putting off seeking help.
As nature and society would have it, women are constantly burdened with taking care of too many things at once. Movies like I Don’t Know How She Does It emphasize women’s ability to take on so many things. As a result, health often takes a back seat. This can lead to advanced disease progression and a worse prognosis.
Steps to Better Health
The journey to wellness begins with learning how you can make a difference in your own life. The Office on Women’s Health combined with our team at the Lung Institute offer six easy ways to improve your physical and mental health.
- Schedule a well-woman appointment, which means visiting your doctor for regular checkups even when you’re feeling okay. Preventive screenings can impact the treatment options and improvement potential.
- Get active.
- Eat healthy.
- Don’t forget about your mental health, which includes getting enough sleep and limiting your stress.
- Avoid unhealthy behaviors. Smoking, texting while driving, binge drinking and not wearing a seatbelt are unnecessary risks.
- If you’re suffering from a chronic lung disease, speak with a patient coordinator.
Being diagnosed with a chronic lung disease like COPD is no longer a life sentence. With medical advancements like stem cell therapy, patients can breathe easier and get back to the life they want. For more information, call the Lung Institute at (800) 729-3065.