Lung Disease

Better Breathers Club

Better Breathers Club Hawaii provides an opportunity to meet individuals with lung disease and their family members and share concerns. Having a chronic lung disease can create new demands on people. Trying to adjust to the daily ups and downs of breathing can leave you frustrated. Come explore how you and others can successfully deal with these daily challenges!
Do you experience shortness of breath? This is a time to discuss concerns and gain encouragement from others who have found solutions to common problems. The Better Breathers Club allows you to relax and discuss medical issues and other information of interest to help you breathe better. Improving your understanding of lung disease leads to a more relaxed and positive outlook!  Click here to find a Better Breathers Club near you.

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a term referring to a large group of lung diseases characterized by obstruction to airflow that interferes with normal breathing. Emphysema and chronic bronchitis are the conditions of COPD, and they frequently co-exist, hence physicians prefer the term COPD. It does not include other obstructive diseases such as asthma.

  • COPD is the forth leading cause of death in America, claiming 120,000 lives in 2002.
  • Beginning in 2000, women exceeded men in number of deaths attributable to COPD.
  • In 2002, over 61,000 females died compared to 59,000 men.
  • In 2003, 10.7 million U.S. adults were estimated to have COPD.
  • In 2004, the cost to the nation for COPD was approximately $37.2 billion.

Lung Cancer

There are two major types of lung cancer: non-small cell lung cancer and small cell lung cancer. Non-small cell lung cancer is much more common. It usually spreads to different parts of the body more slowly than small cell lung cancer. Squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinoma, and large cell carcinoma are three types of non-small cell lung cancer. Small cell lung cancer, also called oat cell cancer, accounts for about 20% of all lung cancer.

  • Lung cancer is the leading cancer killer in both men and women. An estimated 173,700 new cases of lung cancer and an estimated 160,440 deaths from lung cancer occurred in the United States during 2004.


 Emphysema is a condition in which the walls between the alveoli or air sacs within the lung lose their ability to stretch and recoil. The air sacs become weakened and break. Elasticity of the lung tissue is lost, causing air to be trapped in the air sacs and impairing the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. Also, the support of the airways is lost, allowing for airflow obstruction.

  • Over 3.1 million Americans have been diagnosed with emphysema, of which 91% were 45 years of age or older.


(Influenza)Information directly from the American Lung Association National website

Influenza is a contagious disease caused by a virus. A virus is a germ that is very small. Influenza viruses infect many parts of the body, including the lungs.

When someone who has influenza sneezes, coughs, or even talks, the influenza virus is expelled into the air and may be inhaled by anyone close by.


When influenza strikes the lungs, the lining of the respiratory tract is damaged. The tissues become swollen and inflamed. Fortunately, the damage is rarely permanent. The tissues usually heal within a few weeks.

Influenza is often called a respiratory disease, but it affects the whole body. The victim usually becomes acutely ill with fever, chills, weakness, loss of appetite and aching of the head, back, arms and legs. The influenza sufferer may also have a sore throat and a dry cough, nausea, and burning eyes.

The fever mounts quickly; temperature may rise to 104 degrees F but after two or three days, it usually subsides. The patient is often left exhausted for days afterwards.

SARS, a potentially more serious illness may start like the flu.  Check with your doctor immediately if complications such as difficulty breathing occur in areas where SARS is present.

Be prepared for this year's flu season.

Check out one of these sites to find a flu shot location near you!

Flu Shot Locater 


Tuberculosis (often called TB) is an infectious disease that usually attacks the lungs, but can attack almost any part of the body. Tuberculosis is spread from person to person through the air.

When people with TB in their lungs or throat cough, laugh, sneeze, sing, or even talk, the germs that cause TB may be spread into the air. If another person breathes in these germs there is a chance that they will become infected with tuberculosis. Repeated contact is usually required for infection.

It is important to understand that there is a difference between being infected with TB and having TB disease. Someone who is infected with TB has the TB germs, or bacteria, in their body. The body's defenses are protecting them from the germs and they are not sick.

Someone with TB disease is sick and can spread the disease to other people. A person with TB disease needs to see a doctor as soon as possible.

It is not easy to become infected with tuberculosis. Usually a person has to be close to someone with TB disease for a long period of time. TB is usually spread between family members, close friends, and people who work or live together. TB is spread most easily in closed spaces over a long period of time. However, transmission in an airplane, although rare, has been documented.

Even if someone becomes infected with tuberculosis, that does not mean they will get TB disease. Most people who become infected do not develop TB disease because their body's defenses protect them. Most active cases of TB disease result from activating old infection in people with impaired immune systems.

Experts believe that about 10 million Americans are infected with TB germs. Only about 10 percent of these people will develop TB disease in their lifetime. The other 90 percent will never get sick from the TB germs or be able to spread them to other people.1

TB is an increasing and major world wide problem, especially in Africawhere the spread has been facilitated by AIDS. It is estimated that nearly 1 billion people will become newly infected, over 150 million will become sick, and 36 million will die worldwide between now and 2020 -- if control is not further strengthened. Each year there are more than 8.8 million cases and close to 2 million deaths attributed to TB; 100,000 of those 2 million deaths occur among children.




The American Lung Association and the Environmental Protection Agency recommend that ALL homes be tested for radon.  Please test your home today.

Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer for non-smokers and kills approximately 22,000 Americans every year. This natural, radioactive gas rises from rocks and soil in the ground and seeps into homes and buildings through cracks in the foundation and walls. Radon is a gas you cannot see, smell, or taste.


The American Lung Association of the Mountain Pacific has test kits that can be purchased online for $14.00 (includes shipping/handling, laboratory results, and informational brochures).

The American Lung Association of the Mountain Pacific is working with a dedicated group of radon professionals to address raising education and awareness of radon as a serious public health threat.

Questions about radon?  Contact us at 


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