Lungs are important muscles in our bodies, and like all muscles, they struggle as we age. Aging lungs often can’t take as big of breaths or cough as hard as they did when they were younger. This leaves many people susceptible to common lung health problems. While anyone can experience lung health problems at any age, men over 50 should watch for the following issues.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of death in the US. While many people don’t develop this cancer or receive a lung cancer diagnosis until age 65, many people in their fifties are still susceptible. All men, regardless of age or smoking history, have a 1 in 16 chance of developing lung cancer. Black men are 12 percent more likely to develop lung cancer than white men, but this gap is closing.
Smoking greatly increases your chances of developing lung cancer. Even if you smoked when you were younger and stopped, you still run the risk of developing lung cancer. Early detection can help save lives, so get screened if you know you’re at a higher risk for lung cancer.
Asthma can develop at any age, including into adulthood. While it’s most common for people to develop asthma during their youth and adolescence, adults in their fifties and older can still develop this lung disease. Adults often experience persistent symptoms, especially difficulty breathing and coughing. Allergies, lung irritants such as smoke and mold, and various illnesses can trigger adult asthma.
If you show common asthma symptoms, you can discuss diagnosis and treatment with your doctor. They will perform a regular physical exam and breathing tests to determine an asthma diagnosis. If your symptoms seem to stem from a specific trigger, they may also perform allergy testing. Once you’ve received your asthma diagnosis, you can move forward with treatment options, such as breathing exercises and medical inhalers.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
One of the most common lung health problems for men over 50 is chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD occurs when damaged lung tissue prevents the body from transferring oxygen into the bloodstream like it should. This can make people feel short of breath, although other symptoms include wheezing and excessive phlegm production.
There are various forms of COPD, and the two most common ones are emphysema and chronic bronchitis. You can find an overview of treatment options for emphysema and chronic bronchitis online and through your local healthcare professionals. Treatment options are often specific to the type of COPD you have and its severity.
Men over 50 should carefully monitor their health to determine if they are at risk or believe they are developing any of these lung problems. Remember to always speak with a medical professional if you have questions concerning any part of your health, including lung health.