There are a number of reasons why we develop breathing problems, the most common reason for going to a hospital A & E department. Conditions that could cause breathing problems include asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a type of lung disease usually caused by smoking, or heart disease. Alternatively the problem could be caused by being unfit and/or overweight.
Smoking is a major risk factor, and not just for the sake of your lungs. Quitting is the obvious answer, but we know it isn’t easy. Luckily there are lots of resources to help you kick the habit.
If you become breathless suddenly, or after exercise, or develop wheezing and/or coughing, you may have asthma. Don’t just wait for these symptoms to go away, make an appointment with your GP as soon as possible.
There are other, more serious conditions that can cause breathlessness. Some, such as asbestosis, mesothelioma and silicosis are caused by respiratory hazards that you can come into contact with at work.
Breathing problems are usually described as being a shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. This happens because your body isn’t getting as much oxygen as it needs. As a result, you breathe faster to try to get more air into your lungs.
This can be quite frightening, and should never be ignored. Call your GP straight away and ask their advice. They may ask you to go to the surgery, or to A & E, depending on the circumstances.
If you smoke, giving up cigarettes is one of the best things you can do for your health. Smoking can have a devastating effect on your health, here are just some of the diseases that smoking can cause:
- Lung disease especially COPD
- Heart disease
- Erectile dysfunction and infertility
- Cataracts and other eye disorders
There are more than 4,000 chemicals in cigarette smoke, including 70 chemicals known to cause cancer.
Smoking cigarettes is the biggest avoidable cause of death, but by stopping now you can stop the irreversible damage or slow down the rate of damage being caused by a disease caused by smoking. Ready to stop? See below for where to get help.
The NHS Smokefree website has lots of advice and information on how to quit. You can call and talk to an adviser on 0800 022 4 332.