Local NHS organisations across Coventry and Warwickshire are supporting Love Your Lungs Week (22-28 June) by raising awareness about lung health, which is especially important this year due the effect coronavirus (COVID-19) has on the lungs and the respiratory system.
Love Your Lungs Week is organised by the British Lung Foundation, and this year’s message is for people to ‘Stay Connected’. Many people with moderate to severe lung conditions will have been shielding and staying at home more than usual, so staying connected with others is vital for overall wellbeing.
There are many types of lung conditions and these include asthma, COPD, pneumonia, lung cancer, sarcoidosis and many more. Statistics for the UK show that 10,000 people are diagnosed with lung disease every week, and that someone dies from lung disease every five minutes.
Coronavirus is also categorised as a lung condition because it is a disease that affects the lungs and airways. For most people, the symptoms are mild, but some will develop severe breathing difficulties and other complications.
Research into the effects of coronavirus on people’s long-term health is ongoing, but the current evidence shows that people who have long-term lung conditions, have had a lung operation or transplant, or who are taking immunosuppressant medicine, may be at higher risk of severe coronavirus symptoms.
If you have a lung condition, it’s essential to follow the current guidance to help keep safe and protected. Please visit the NHS or GOV.UK websites regularly to see the current guidance for those at high and moderate risk.
Dr David Spraggett, Chair at NHS South Warwickshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said:: “We are supporting Love Your Lungs Week by reminding people who have lung conditions to take extra care of themselves.
“Living with a lung condition can be hard, and coronavirus and lockdown have made things even more difficult – but there is support available. The NHS is still here for you and you are not alone. Get in touch with your GP or NHS111 if you are concerned about an existing lung condition or if you are worried about any new and persistent symptoms. Do not delay getting advice and help.”
There are many online resources including British Lung Foundation website and mobile apps to help people with a lung condition to manage this from home.
People who have lung conditions may also be able to access local support to help them while they are shielding or during periods of self-isolation. If you meet certain criteria, you can get support from the NHS volunteer responders. They can do things like helping you with shopping, getting prescriptions or just checking in to see how you are doing.
Dr Imogen Staveley, Deputy Chair at NHS Warwickshire North CCG said: “We know it’s a worrying time for people at the moment if you are shielding. Staying connected with others can really help and there are many online support groups and forums for people in similar situations. Staying in touch with friends and family via phone or the internet too can also boost your mental wellbeing.”
Even if you don’t have a lung condition, Love Your Lungs Week is an opportunity to reflect on your own lung health and think about how to protect it.
Dr Sarah Raistrick, Chair at NHS Coventry and Warwickshire CCG said: “One of the best ways to improve and protect your lung health is to adopt a healthier lifestyle, take regular exercise and stop smoking. Smoking seriously damages the lungs; so if you do smoke, we encourage you to take steps to quitting.”
The NHS Smokefree website is a great resource for those looking for support to quit smoking. Healthy Lifestyles Coventry and Quit 4 Good Warwickshire offer local quit smoking support services. Visit their websites for further information.
Remember: The NHS is still here for you: for health concerns contact your GP practice, NHS 111 online or via phone, or if it is a life-threatening emergency – 999.
Further help and advice:
· British Lung Foundation helpline on 03000 030 555 Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm
· Register for support online: www.volunteering.royalvoluntaryservice.org.uk/nhs-volunteer-responders-portal/isolating or by calling 0808 196 3646.
· Extremely vulnerable groups: www.gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable
· British Lung Foundation: www.blf.org.uk/support-for-you/coronavirus/people-living-with-lung-condition
· Love Your Lungs Week: www.blf.org.uk/take-action/campaign/loveyourlungsweek
· Social shielding: www.blf.org.uk/support-for-you/coronavirus/what-is-social-shielding
· Higher risk groups: www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/people-at-higher-risk/whos-at-higher-risk-from-coronavirus/
· Anyone who has symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) can ask for a free test to check if they have the virus. Visit: www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/testing-and-tracing/ask-for-a-test-to-check-if-you-have-coronavirus/ or call 119