Caregiver Resources - Lungs & Respiration

Overview for Caregivers - Lungs & Respiration

Chronic respiratory diseases are long-term conditions that negatively affect a person’s breathing pathway and lungs (1). Some of the most common are asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer and sleep apnea (1). These conditions have a major impact on an individual’s health and quality of life (1).

Outdoor and indoor air pollution, work-related health hazards and smoking (including second hand smoke) are major causes of chronic respiratory diseases (2). The aging process also makes an individual more vulnerable to respiratory disease due to changes in lung tissue, the immune system and the musculoskeletal (muscle and bone) system (3). These changes can increase an older person’s risk of lung infections (such as pneumonia and bronchitis), and cause shortness of breath and unusual breathing patterns which can lead to episodes of stopped breathing during sleep, also known as sleep apnea (3).

Avoiding cigarette smoke and participating in regular physical exercise can help prevent chronic respiratory disease and decrease the effects of aging on the lungs (3). Additionally, older people are at a high risk of experiencing complications from the influenza virus or “the flu”. The influenza vaccine or “flu shot” decreases the incidence of pneumonia, hospital admissions and deaths in the older population (4). Also, the Pneumococcal vaccine, which protects against the serious consequences of pneumonia, is recommended for all adults aged 65 and older (5).

Talk with the family physician to figure out the best way for your family/friend to maintain a healthy respiratory system.

References

(1)   Public Health Agency of Canada. (2014). Chronic respiratory diseases. Retrieved from https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/chronic-diseases/chronic-respiratory-diseases.html

(2)   Public Health Agency of Canada. (2008). How can I keep my lungs healthy? Retrieved from https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/chronic-diseases/chronic-respiratory-diseases/keep-lungs-healthy.html

(3)   U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2018). Aging changes in the lungs. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/004011.htm

(4)   Government of Canada. (2018). Canadian immunization guide chapter on influenza and statement on seasonal influenza vaccine for 2017–2018. Retrieved from https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/healthy-living/canadian-immunization-guide-statement-seasonal-influenza-vaccine-2017-2018.html

(5)   Government of Canada. (2016). Canadian immunization guide: Part 4 - Active vaccines - Pneumococcal vaccine. Retrieved from https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/healthy-living/canadian-immunization-guide-part-4-active-vaccines/page-16-pneumococcal-vaccine.html

5 Minutes with Drs Michael Brauer and Sarah Henderson

This blog post provides general informaiton on the AirCare program in a questions and answers format. AirCare is a vehicle emissions monitoring program that has been introduced in many parts of the world.

Aging Changes in the Lungs

This resource outlines some of the changes aging has on the body and their affects on the lungs. Information includes:

  • Changes to the bones and muscles of the chest and spine
  • Changes to lung tissue
  • Changes to the nervous system
  • Changes to the immune system
  • Common problems
  • Prevention
  • Other changes related to aging

Air Pollution–Related Illness

This web page outlines the common environmental pollutants that can contribute to pulmonary diseases in both developed and developing countries. This resources offers a 'consumer version', with information in plain language, and a 'professional version' wtih more information and resources for individuals who have a more advanced level of medical literacy.

Asbestosis

This information page provides an overview of asbestosis, its symptoms, diagnosis, prevention and treatment. This resource offers a ' 'consumer version', with information in plain language, and a 'professional version' wtih more information and resources for individuals who have a more advanced level of medical literacy.

Canadian Thoracic Society - Website

This Canadian website provides resources and information on diseases which affect the respiratory tract along with clinical practice guidelines to optimize the management of respiratory diseases. Topics include COPD, Asthma, Sleep apnea, TB, Infectious diseases, etc.