You may not realize it, but your lungs work unceasingly, helping you take more than 6 million breaths a year, so every cell in your body has a sufficient supply of oxygen to function correctly. So how can you perform all the wonderful things you do if your lungs are unhealthy? That is why it is essential that you know the different warning signs of sakit sa baga or lung disease, so you can readily seek medical help if you experience any of them.
Perhaps you want to know more about lung disease. If so, read on. This piece will give you an overview of the leading lung problems in the Philippines, the symptoms you need to watch out for, and helpful pointers to keep in mind when visiting a doctor.
What Are the Most Common Lung Diseases in the Philippines?
Medical conditions of the lungs are common in the Philippines, mainly due to inadequate healthcare systems, malnutrition, and air pollution. Below are the top three lung diseases that affect the majority of Filipinos:
- Pneumonia. This disease is an infection that inflames the air sacs of one or both lungs, causing cough with phlegm, fever, chills, and difficulty breathing. Pneumonia or pulmonya is caused by different microorganisms, such as viruses, bacteria, and fungi. It is the third leading cause of death among Filipino women in 2018.
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). COPD is a group of lung problems that cause breathing difficulties, such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Although treatable, COPD is the seventh leading cause of death in the country. Most COPD cases are due to smoking and exposure to secondhand smoke, air pollution, and fumes.
- Tuberculosis (TB). TB is an infectious disease that mainly affects the lungs. While it is preventable and curable, 70 Filipinos still die of TB every day. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2019, the Philippines recorded the highest TB incidence in Asia, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
What Are the Warning Signs of a Lung Problem?
Knowing the early signs of lung disease is essential so that you can get medical help as soon as possible. Remember that early detection can prevent the condition from getting worse and significantly impacting your life. Below are the warning signs of lung disease that you need to keep in mind:
- Chronic cough. While an occasional cough is normal as it helps get rid of irritants from your lungs, a persistent cough lasting for eight weeks or longer is a cause for concern. A chronic cough is more than just annoying and frustrating. It is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong.
- Shortness of breath. It is common to get out of breath when exercising or doing strenuous activities, but it is unusual to feel breathless if you hardly overexert yourself. If you experience difficulty moving air in and out of your airways, it could be an indication of a lung condition.
- Chronic mucus production. Mucus or phlegm protects the lungs from foreign particles and irritants. It is a normal part of the respiratory system. However, if you notice increased mucus production lasting for a month or longer, this could signify a lung issue.
- Wheezing. Do you hear a high-pitched whistling sound when you exhale or even when you inhale? If you do, you cannot let this wheezing sound go unchecked because it suggests inflamed or narrowed airways.
- Chest pain. An unexplained feeling of tightness in the chest or chest pain that becomes much worse when you breathe or cough is another symptom worth noting, especially if it persists for a month or more.
- Coughing up blood. Coughing up blood or paglura ng dugo is a symptom that you should never ignore as it is nearly always a sign of a severe medical condition like lung cancer, COPD, or TB.
How to Prepare for Your First Doctor’s Appointment?
If you already made an appointment with your doctor after noticing one or more of the warning signs above, it is best to prepare to make your visit worthwhile. Here are several pointers you may want to consider before meeting a lung specialist:
- Write down all the symptoms you are experiencing and note the ones that bother you the most.
- Take note of any stimulus that tends to make your symptoms worse, such as smoking or working in a factory where you are exposed to chemical fumes.
- Make a list of all the medications you are using, including herbal supplements to address your condition or make yourself feel better.
- Try to familiarize yourself with your family’s medical history.
- Write down all your questions and concerns so that you will not forget.
Lung disease is not something to be taken lightly. After all, breathing is an integral part of survival. That is why you cannot ignore a persistent cough, difficulty breathing, and other telltale signs of lung problems discussed above. If you suspect an issue, seek medical attention immediately. Keep in mind that early detection is key to proper care and successful treatment.