Gasping for Air

How Breathing Is Killing Us and What We Can Do about It

By (author) Kevin Glynn

Publication date:

03 August 2017

Length of book:

288 pages


Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

ISBN-13: 9781442246232

Breathing is a continuous battle between our need for oxygen and forces in nature that attack our lungs. Three hundred thousand Americans will die of respiratory diseases this year. Gasping for Air is the dramatic story of how infections, toxins, carcinogens, and air pollution strike against one of our basic body functions. The book also describes how we come into the struggle with diseases like asthma, cystic fibrosis, and sleep apnea, which make us vulnerable to assaults on breathing from without and within.

We have powerful weapons to defend breathing. Medical science, public health, engineering, and business, all play important roles in the effort to support breathing. Yet,
Gasping for Air also reminds readers how breathing support has been at the eye of the storm in many ethical dilemmas of modern healthcare. Here, Kevin Glynn, an experienced pulmonologist and lifelong asthma sufferer tells stories about the third most common cause of premature deaths in the developed world, describes lethal forces in Nature (infections, genetic predispositions) and from human activities (dusty occupations, tobacco smoking, chemical toxins, drug overdoses) that threaten to suffocate us, and offers sage advice for how to prevent and address those threats and the damage they cause.
Glynn, a medical doctor who specializes in respiratory care, makes it impossible to take breathing for granted. It’s vital for life. Within five minutes of not doing it, our brains begin to die. Glynn accurately describes breathing in a narrative that is part history, part biography, and part science. He covers the history of tuberculosis, pneumonia, and polio. He talks about 'suffocating work.' More than 300 substances cause occupational asthma. And he looks at lung cancer, which kills 160,000 Americans per year, including his father, a heavy smoker. Who could blame him and his peers? Old ads featured physicians touting the refreshing power of cigarettes. Like two of his children and grandchildren, Glynn suffers from asthma. But his childhood condition came with a silver lining. Because sports were tricky for him as a child, he turned to books. And now he’s written one that is well researched and thoughtful and that should appeal to a large audience, given that 36 million Americans live with respiratory impairment. Inhale, exhale, appreciate.