Although most people associate October with Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it is also known as Healthy Lung Month. The American Lung Association is publishing material all month with tips and education about how to take care of your lungs.
First on the list of encouraging healthy lungs is not smoking. Cigarette smoke is a known cause of lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), including chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Cigarette smoke also destroys lung tissue and can cause chronic inflammation of the lungs.
E-cigarettes and other electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) now have the same FDA regulation as regular cigarettes because of dangers of their own.
The FDA made the decision to regulate e-cigarette usage based on shocking statistics, such as the increase in e-cigarette usage by youth. The agency’s website states, “More than 3 million middle and high school students were current users of e-cigarettes in 2015, up from an estimated 2.46 million in 2014.”
With diacetyl, acetoin and 2,3 pentanedione (a diacetyl substitute) found in 92 percent of e-cigarette liquids, concerns are growing about the exposure of chemicals to the lungs. Diacetyl and 2,3 pentanedione are chemicals that produce a buttery or creamy flavoring.
When diacetyl is inhaled, the person is at risk for developing obliterative bronchiolitis, or “popcorn lung,” a disease where the smallest airways of the lungs become scarred and restricted. The symptoms include difficulty breathing, and are very similar to the symptoms of COPD, asthma, or chronic bronchitis. Obliterative bronchiolitis is a disease that is only treatable by lung transplant.
Other ways to keep your lungs healthy would be to prevent infection by washing hands often, taking precautions against catching colds and other illnesses, as well as good exercise to keep the lungs clear and strong.