Breathing Freely Has Become an Uncommon Luxury

With the latest figures now in, there’s no doubt people aren’t breathing easy these days. This isn’t a figure of speech or a segue into a speech about the deteriorating state of the world: it’s a very literal statement based on medical reports. Respiratory diseases are on the rise across the globe. Though no real cures are available for most of these conditions, management is possible. With treatment from specialists like those at Lahey Hospital and Medical Center,, quite a few patients are living longer and experiencing an improved quality of life despite their respiratory issues.

Based on a recent report from the Forum of International Respiratory Societies, respiratory infections stemming from the flu are responsible for up to 500,000 deaths each year. They’ve been deemed the most significant contributor to the world’s burden of disease. These infections are only the tip of the iceberg. In a recent breakdown, FIRS points out:

  • At least 50 million people the world over suffer from occupational lung diseases, a category defined as respiratory ailments caused by repeated inhalation of certain harmful substances like minerals and chemicals.
  • More than 200 million are living with COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a range of conditions characterized by continually worsening shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing among other symptoms.
  • An estimated 8.7 new cases of tuberculosis crop up each year. This contagious bacterial infection affects the lungs causing prolonged cough, fever, chest pains and fatigue as well as several other signs of illness.
  • Asthma affects in excess of 235 million around the world, each of them constantly battling the wheezing, shortness of breath and chest pains caused by swelling and restriction of the airways.
  • Lung cancer takes more than 1.4 million lives every year, making its various forms the most deadly cancers in the world.

All these are far more prevalent now than in decades past. Some feel it’s a matter of past exposure to harmful substances coming to light whereas others believe surging amounts of contaminants in the air are responsible for the increase. In truth, it’s most likely a combination of the two. Either way, humanity is suffering as a result. Though most of these conditions can’t be eliminated completely, medical advances are helping people breathe a few more sighs of relief here and there. Hopefully, the cures are right around the corner.