Each year throughout October, Healthy Lung Month aims to increase awareness of rare lung diseases and emphasize the importance of lung health.
More and more Americans are being impacted by chronic lung conditions every day. Asthma, which predominantly impacts communities of color and lower-income populations, affects about 25 million people in the United States alone, and that number appears to be increasing in recent years.
Nearly 16 million people have been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a group of diseases including chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Those diagnosed with COPD are often isolated and unable to work due to their symptoms.
With vaping remaining popular among young people, many more people are experiencing respiratory problems including fluid buildup in the lungs and pneumonia. Statistics like these show the impact of educating people on the importance of healthy habits to prevent illnesses.
In addition to these health issues, many Americans face even rarer conditions, such as those caused by asbestos exposure.
The Harmful Effects of Asbestos on Lung Health
Asbestos-related diseases are difficult to diagnose since microscopic asbestos fibers remain in the body for decades. Symptoms often don’t appear until the disease is more advanced, making treatment even more difficult.
More than 40,000 Americans died from asbestos-related illnesses in 2019. Millions are still at risk of developing asbestos-related diseases.
One of the most aggressive asbestos-related diseases is mesothelioma. The rare cancer affects the thin lining of internal organs such as the lungs and spreads rapidly, causing shortness of breath and a chronic cough.
Around 3,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with mesothelioma every year. Because of the military’s heavy usage of asbestos-containing materials, one-third of those diagnosed are veterans — particularly U.S. Navy veterans.
Asbestos exposure has also been linked to an increased risk of lung cancer, which is one of the most common cancers in the U.S. Like mesothelioma, lung cancer caused by asbestos exposure often goes unnoticed for decades until the cancer is dangerously progressed.
Various treatments are critical for lung cancer and mesothelioma patients to maintain their quality of life — but it can be difficult for many families to afford care.
The Burden of Lung Treatment Costs
Those who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other asbestos-related diseases may also be burdened by the cost of treatments.
Mesothelioma treatment and therapies can cost more than $400,000. Within the first year of lung cancer diagnosis, patients can expect to pay an average of $65,000 and thousands more in the years following. These exorbitant costs leave treatment that could lead to healthier lungs far out of reach of many people.
Those diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease may be eligible for compensation to help ease the burden of treatment costs. Veterans may also qualify for VA benefits and health care if they were exposed to asbestos and were diagnosed with mesothelioma, lung cancer, or another asbestos-related disease.
Sokolove Law has over 40 years of proven experience advocating for victims of asbestos exposure. Contact our team at (800) 995-1212 to see how we might be able to help.
Small Steps to Care for and Protect Your Lungs
Whether you suffer from a common respiratory issue or have been diagnosed with a rare disease, there are steps you can take to protect your lungs and breathe easier.
Here are just a few things we recommend for healthy respiratory habits this Healthy Lung Month:
- Quit smoking and/or reduce exposure to secondhand smoke. Smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke are the leading causes of lung cancer.
- Maintain awareness of local air quality indexes and air pollutants. If you can, try to avoid walking and exercising near busy streets to reduce inhalation of vehicle emissions.
- Keep air filters clean to minimize asthmatic triggers.
- Wear appropriate gear when working with products that contain dangerous materials.
- Practice breathing exercises. Deep breathing can help strengthen the lungs, allowing them to breathe easier.
- See your doctor regularly. Since asbestos-related lung conditions often go unnoticed for decades, it is important to visit care providers regularly, especially if you worked in occupations at a high risk of asbestos exposure.
During Lung Health Month, several organizations host special events, opening even more opportunities for you to get involved. Some special days throughout the month include National Respiratory Care Week from October 25 through October 30 and Lung Health Day on October 28.
All of us at Sokolove Law know how important lung health is, especially for veterans and those battling difficult diseases. You do not have to do this alone. There are people across the nation increasing awareness and taking healthy steps to support you this Healthy Lung Month.