2021 was one for the books. We continued to deal with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and learn more about this highly contagious, adaptable disease. We looked at new ways to bring awareness or attention to the growing vaping epidemic among teenagers across the U.S. We learned more about the risks of air pollution and how it affects us daily. We debunked myths about chronic lung diseases and spoke to experts about treatment solutions. Here is a look at some of the topics that dominated this year, and how we sought to provide you with the information you needed to keep yourself happy and healthy.

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American Lung Association Highlights 2020-2021

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1. Understanding the COVID-19 Delta Variant

COVID-19 has dominated our lives for almost two years now. Though the recent development of the COVID-19 vaccines has given us hope of returning to a normal life, this tricky virus has also been adapting. The strain that has made top news this year is the Delta Variant because of its ability to spread quickly and cause more severe infection. We asked American Lung Association’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Albert Rizzo, to answer our most pressing questions.

2. Can Dogs Sniff Out COVID-19?

For some time now, scientists have used dogs to sniff out a variety of illnesses, from Parkinson’s to cancer and, most commonly, diabetes. So, it is no surprise that recent studies focused on how these superior smellers may also be able to play a role in slowing the spread of COVID-19. We broke down the findings for you in our blog.

3. Understanding Mucus in Your Lungs

One of the most common symptoms of chronic lung disease is a buildup of mucus in the lungs. Also known as phlegm or sputum, mucus plays a key role in your lung’s immune response because it traps irritants in your airways and helps allow your body to expel them through coughing. Irina Petrache, M.D., Chief of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine at National Jewish Health helped us answer our most pressing questions about mucus and when you should be concerned.

4. Flu Shot and COVID-19 Vaccine: Do I Need Both?

The CDC recommends that everyone 6 months of age and older get a flu shot every year, but this season many people were concerned about how it may interact with the COVID-19 vaccine. We spoke with American Lung Association Chief Medical Officer Albert Rizzo, M.D. and National Spokesperson Dr. Juanita Mora to answer some of the most pressing questions about getting both the COVID-19 and flu vaccines.

5. #GettheFacts: Pneumococcal Pneumonia

Pneumococcal pneumonia is a potentially serious disease that can disrupt your life for weeks and even land you in the hospital. While some health and lifestyle factors may increase your risk for getting pneumococcal pneumonia, an important risk factor in adults is age. Dr. MeiLan Han, Director of the Michigan Airways Program and American Lung Association volunteer medical spokesperson, spelled out the facts.

6. Understanding the Link between COVID-19 Mortality and Air Pollution

We already know that during this pandemic, people living in areas with unhealthy levels of air pollution face multiple threats to their lung health at once. Now, emerging research has found links between air pollution and severe illness from COVID-19—underscoring the critical need to ensure healthy air for all.

7. Teen’s Documentary Exposes the Dangers of Vaping

In 2019, the U.S. Surgeon General officially named youth vaping an epidemic. Close to one in five teens vape, and youth vaping rates are 73% greater than they were four years ago. When Cole Kosch realized how big the vaping culture was in his own school, and the lack of awareness around the health impacts, he set out to change that by creating a documentary for kids his age. He spoke with us about his process and how he hopes the video will speak to his generation.

8. All About ECMO

Short for extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, also called extracorporeal life support or ECLS, ECMO is used as a temporary form of heart lung bypass in patients who have the most severe heart, lung or heart and lung failure. But what exactly does the procedure entail and is it really the best course of action for patients with COVID-19? Dr. Erik Osborn, who specializes in pulmonary critical care medicine at Inova Health System and is the Medical Director for Adult ECMO, answered all our questions about this little-known procedure and its use during the pandemic.

9. COVID-19 and Asthma: What You Need to Know

The Clinical Director of the Asthma Program at Mount Sinai, Dr. Linda Rogers, has seen first-hand the struggle that patients with asthma and other chronic respiratory diseases have had during the COVID-19 pandemic. She spoke with us about things that patients with asthma should do to stay safe during this trying time.

10. What to Expect After Receiving the COVID-19 Vaccine

This year, three COVID-19 vaccines became available, initially to everyone 18 and older. As more and more of the population received vaccinations, people had questions about side-effects and post-vaccine behavior. We sat down with Dr. Donald J. Alcendor to get answers to some of those questions.

Find out more about trending topics in health on our blog.
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