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New and Persistent Cough

While people might joke about ‘coughing up a lung’, symptoms such as coughing, wheezing or noisy breathing can mean your lungs are having trouble getting enough air or cleaning out a build-up of mucus.

New and Persistent Cough

Congratulations. Many people overlook a nagging cough, dismissing it as the ‘flu and don’t stop to have it checked.

Have a new,
persistent or changed cough?

Mucus, phlegm or blood

If you are coughing up blood, please stop this checklist and seek urgent medical advice

Mucus is produced by the walls of the airways to trap particles in the air you breathe. Tiny hairs line your airways and help move unwanted materials to the mouth where they can be coughed out or blown into a tissue or handkerchief.

Mucus, phlegm or blood

For something kind of gross, mucus does a lot of good. It helps keep germs, dirt, pollen, and bacteria from getting stuck in your lungs. But sometimes mucus doesn't stay put. Luckily, you don’t seem to have to worry about that at the moment.

Cough up mucus,
phlegm or blood?

Breathlessness

Your lungs are amazing. Many people put breathlessness down to being overweight or unfit. Unexplained breathlessness is ‘not’ ok and could indicate you have a problem with your lungs.

Breathlessness

Your lungs work with your brain to help you inhale and exhale more air at a more rapid rate when you're exercising such as running a race. But this should always be temporary and pass quickly when you’ve finished.

Get out of breath more
easily than others your age?

Chest tightness and wheezing

Wheezing is a whistling/fizzing sound from the chest when you breathe out. Wheezing is a classic sign of asthma but viruses can also be a cause of wheezing. Wheezing usually occurs when the flow of air is restricted due to a blockage in the tubes leading to the lungs.

Chest tightness and wheezing

Many people don’t even think about their breathing until they start to experience challenges – in fact people take on average about 23,000 breaths a day – or one breath every three to five seconds.

  • 50 people die each day of lung disease
  • There were 2.6 million cases of lung disease reported in 2007/08 and
  • 14% of all deaths are a result of lung disease
  • Each year, lung disease causes nearly 350,000 hospitalisations
  • Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is the second leading cause of avoidable hospitalisation

Experience chest
tightness or wheeze?

Frequent chest infections

Be guided by your doctor, but some general self-care suggestions include:

  • Take any medicines as directed. Even if you feel better, finish your course of antibiotics
  • Drink plenty of fluids
  • Rest for a few days
  • Prop yourself up on a couple of pillows at night – it will make it easier to sleep
  • Stop smoking
  • Go straight to your local doctor or the nearest hospital emergency department if you have trouble breathing, have a high fever or feel worse

Frequent chest infections

Chest infections can affect people of all ages. Young children and the elderly are most at risk, as well as people who are ill and smokers.

To reduce the risk of spreading the viruses and bacteria that can cause chest infection:

  • cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze
  • regularly wash your hands with soap and warm water
  • throw away used tissues immediately

Have frequent
chest infections?

Frequent chest pain,fatigue and/or weight loss

Chest pain is not necessarily caused by the heart. In some cases, the pain may be caused by problems in your lungs, esophagus, muscles, ribs, or nerves. Some of these conditions are serious and life threatening. Others are not. If you have unexplained chest pain, the only way to confirm its cause is to speak with your doctor.

Fatigue can be described as feeling excessively tired, confused or impatient often accompanied by a loss of energy that is hard to overcome. Sometimes, fatigue can be so severe that rest or sleep doesn’t seem to help it.

There are many reasons for unexplained weight loss, some serious, and others less so. If you are losing weight without trying, you should make an appointment to see your doctor.

Frequent chest pain,fatigue and/or weight loss

You can't see your lungs, but it's easy to feel them in action: Put your hands on your chest and breathe in very deeply. You will feel your chest getting slightly bigger. Now breathe out the air, and feel your chest return to its regular size.

Experience chest pain, fatigue,
or have sudden weight loss?

Smoker

There are immediate benefits to quitting smoking at any age, regardless of the presence of smoking-related disease. Stopping smoking reduces the risk of lung and other cancers, heart attacks, strokes and chronic diseases such as COPD.

But quitting isn’t easy.

Research has shown the most effective way to quit is to get some ongoing support from a health professional, using a combination of counselling and medicines.

Whether you smoke one cigarette on the weekend or have a pack-a-day habit, there are tools and people available to help you. http://lungfoundation.com.au/lung-health/smoking-cessation/

Smoker

Tobacco is the only legal drug which if taken exactly as intended will kill about half of those people who use it. Tobacco smoke contains more than 7,000 chemical compounds. Many of these agents are toxic and at least 69 cause cancer. It is a known cause of at least 25 diseases including COPD, lung and other cancers, cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Smoking is also a risk factor for other conditions such as gastrointestinal disease, adverse reproductive effects, macular degeneration (eye disease), hair loss, skin ageing and wrinkles, wound infection, gum disease, stomach ulcers, impotence in men, osteoporosis, early menopause, and irregular and pain periods for women.

Are a smoker
or ex-smoker?

Exposure to dust, gas,fumes

You may be at risk of work-related lung disease if the air contained an excessive amount of dust, fumes, smoke, gases, vapors or mists.

Workers who smoke are at a much greater risk of lung disease if they are exposed to other substances that can also cause lung disease.

Poor ventilation, closed-in working areas and heat can all increase the risk of disease.

Outside air pollution can also increase the risk of lung disease in people who work in jobs that expose them to substances that can cause lung disease.

Exposure to dust, gas,fumes

More than seven million Australians (63 percent) 35 years or older claim to have been exposed to environmental or lifestyle factors which could put them at risk of lung disease – including wood smoke, harmful dust, gas or fumes in their workplace or a history of smoking.

Asthma is probably the most common and best known lung disease in Australia; however there are many other lung diseases, some of which are even more serious. Lung disease incorporates a range of diseases such as lung cancer, COPD and many lesser known conditions such as pulmonary fibrosis and pulmonary arterial hypertension. While some of these can be a result of genetic factors, many lung diseases are caused by a history of smoking or exposure to dust, gas or fumes.

Have you ever worked in a job that exposed you to dust, gas or fumes?

Congratulations, you have not identified as having any risk factors or usual symptoms of lung disease.

If you notice any change please speak with your doctor.

Why not encourage a friend or family member to take the lung health checklist?

We also suggest you check in again with your lungs in about six months just in case anything has changed.

Thank you for taking the time to visit Lung Foundation Australia’s website and taking part in our online Lung Health Checklist.

You have some symptoms which may be related to lung disease.

We recommend you speak with your doctor about your symptoms, especially if you have been exposed to smoke, dust, gas or fumes.

Please print the letter below which can be used to help guide the conversation.

Lung Foundation Australia oversees a network of self-help patient support groups around the country for people with lung conditions to connect with others for support and to share their experiences.

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Why not encourage a friend or family member to take the lung health checklist?

For more information or to get in touch with a support group, please contact Lung Foundation Australia on 1800 654 301 or by email to enquiries@lungfoundation.com.au.

Thank you for taking the time to visit Lung Foundation Australia’s website and taking part in our online Lung Health Checklist.

You have indicated that you have some risk factors but no symptoms which may indicate a possible lung problem.

If you are a current smoker, we recommend you speak with your doctor to discuss ways to quit.

Please print the letter below which can be used to help guide the conversation.

Lung Foundation Australia oversees a network of self-help patient support groups around the country for people with lung conditions to connect with others for support and to share their experiences.

generate_report

Why not encourage a friend or family member to take the lung health checklist?

For more information or to get in touch with a support group, please contact Lung Foundation Australia on 1800 654 301 or by email to enquiries@lungfoundation.com.au.

Alternatively, leave us a message using the box below.

Thank you for taking the time to visit Lung Foundation Australia’s website and taking part in our online Lung Health Checklist.

You have some symptoms which may be related to lung disease.

We recommend you speak with your doctor about your symptoms, especially if you have been exposed to smoke, dust, gas or fumes.

Please print the letter below which can be used to help guide the conversation.

Lung Foundation Australia oversees a network of self-help patient support groups around the country for people with lung conditions to connect with others for support and to share their experiences.

For more information or to get in touch with a support group, please contact Lung Foundation Australia on 1800 654 301 or by email to enquiries@lungfoundation.com.au.

Alternatively, leave us a message using the box below.

Note: This Lung Health Checklist has been designed by Lung Foundation Australia to assist the community in monitoring their lung health. It is intended to be used as a guide only and is not an authoritative statement. Please consult your doctor for medical opinion or advice.

Your symptoms:

  • Persisent or changed cough.
  • Cough up mucus, phlegm or blood.
  • Get out of breath more easily than others your age.
  • Experience chest tightness or wheeze.
  • Frequent chest infections.
  • Experience chest pain, fatigue, or have sudden weight loss
  • Smoker or ex-smoker.
  • Worked in a job that, exposed you to dust, gas or fumes.

Note: This Lung Health Checklist has been designed by Lung Foundation Australia to assist the community in monitoring their lung health. It is intended to be used as a guide only and is not an authoritative statement. Please consult your doctor for medical opinion or advice.

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