What does it feel like to struggle for breath? How can you go about daily life when just walking up the stairs makes you cough? For people living with a lung disease, these experiences are part of everyday life.
Lung disease is responsible for one in eight deaths
Lung disease includes common diseases like asthma and allergies, lesser known conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), debilitating short-term infectious diseases like pneumonia, and other rare lung diseases including idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).
Living with lung disease can have a huge personal impact. For society, the impact is equally as big. In the European Union, lung disease is responsible for one in eight deaths and six million hospital admissions a year and its impact is just as big today as it was at the turn of the century with no signs of slowing down.
Not all lung disease is self-inflicted
Historically, lung disease patients receive little sympathy as lung conditions are largely perceived to be self-inflicted by smoking. While smoking has an effect on many lung conditions, other factors like air quality, physical activity and nutrition also figure. Medical societies and charities can support political action in these fields by public awareness initiatives. Last year, the European Respiratory Society (ERS)and European Lung Foundation (ELF) launched the Healthy Lungs for Life campaign which raised awareness of the importance of clean air for lung health.
In addition to political action, people who live with a condition have a wealth of experience and knowledge to contribute to the healthcare process. Involving patients in their healthcare can have real and positive impacts on outcomes for treatment, prevention strategies and quality of life measures. ELF is committed to involving patients in ERS work to influence respiratory research and plans at European level. This partnership is key to ensuring that the work of ERS remains relevant, impactful and effective for the future lung health of Europe.
Effective collaboration is needed to reduce lung disease
There is a lot of work to be done in tackling lung disease; through funding, recognition, research and support to reduce the worrying statistics highlighted here. Through effective collaboration between respiratory professionals and patients, coupled with realistic support at the political level we can achieve these aims.