Caring for Your Lungs: Knowing Your Lung Age and Health
The lungs are one of the most important parts in our body as they are vital in maintaining a healthy and functional respiratory system. Our lungs ensure that our body properly exchanges oxygen and carbon dioxide with every breath we take. By inhaling, our lungs bring in the oxygen needed to nourish our blood. By exhaling, our lungs release carbon dioxide, a waste gas produced due to our body’s metabolism.
This simple gas exchange, known as respiration, is a simple yet critical part in our daily lives. However, as with any part in our body, many complications can arise and affect our pulmonary health.
Lung conditions and diseases are caused by a variety of factors. Lung cancer, one of the leading causes of death among men in the world, is primarily caused by smoking habits, for example.
While lung cancer cases are linked to smoking, there are also common lung problems where an individual might have no control over. Asthma, one of the most common lung diseases among children and adolescents, is a good example. Wheezing, chest tightness, and breathlessness are commonly exhibited by people with asthma. While it is still unclear how the disease develops, many studies have linked it to genetics, environment, and other occupational factors.
Beyond genetics and what we inhale, our lungs are susceptible to many infections as well. Influenza, or the seasonal flu, targets the lungs and causes mild to severe coughs and colds. Pneumonia is another example which severely inflames the lungs due to bacteria, fungi, or viruses.
LUNG CARE AT ST. LUKE’S
The wide range of diseases that affect the lungs show that lung care is extremely important for all of us, especially those with asthma, people exposed to pollutants and chemicals, and smokers.
Patients in need of pulmonary care, such as those with asthma and other acute and chronic respiratory conditions will greatly benefit from understanding the state of their lung’s health.
St. Luke’s Medical Center has available tests that can check your lung age and overall lung health.
Both the Cardiopulmonary Exercise Test (CPET) and the 6-minute Walk Test (6MWT) are procedures that help the medical team assess how the lungs behave during exertion.
CPET is also used to determine a patient’s tolerance to exercise and subsequently finding out how their pulmonary, cardiac, or musculoskeletal systems contribute to physical activity. Even healthy individuals like competitive athletes benefit from this assessment.
6MWT, on the other hand, is a simpler test which measures how far a person can walk within 6 minutes while monitoring the oxygen saturation. Patients with chronic heart and lung diseases may avail of this test to prescribe proper exercise during physical rehabilitation.
Should patients have diagnosed lung conditions, St. Luke’s also has other comprehensive lung tests to check the capacity and overall health of the lungs, and causes of shortness of breath or low oxygen saturation. The spirometry or Pulmonary Function Test (PFT) is the current standard in diagnosing obstructive lung diseases such as Bronchial Asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). The FEV1 derived from the PFT may help us calculate the Lung Age of the patient.
The Lung Diffusion Capacity for Carbon Monoxide (DLCO) measures the ability to transfer the inhaled gas from the lungs to our red blood cells in the pulmonary capillaries. Fractional Exhaled Nitric Oxide (FeNO) is a simple and noninvasive test used to test and monitor inflammation in a patient’s airway, commonly caused by allergic asthma and other lung diseases. While FeNO monitors inflammation in the airways, the Methacholine Challenge Test complements it by administration of inhaled methacholine which may elicit airway hyper-responsiveness.
Understanding our lungs and the possible conditions and diseases that may affect them is key in keeping our lungs healthy and protected. For patients with existing lung conditions and those experiencing breathing difficulties, St. Luke’s Institute of Pulmonary Medicine is the leading institute in pulmonary care.
For lung care inquiries, please contact St. Luke’s Product Information Hub Hotline at 09190577744 (CALL) or at 09191607744 (SMS). You may also email us at [email protected]