Healthy lungs and a good respiratory system help make sure that you stay healthy. Poor respiratory health can affect your quality of life. It’s hard to enjoy life when you’re coughing and wheezing, or getting winded walking up a flight of stairs. Luckily, there are ways to improve lung health.
We don’t often consider the role our lungs play in keeping us strong and well. It’s only when we experience breathing problems that we begin to appreciate how hard our lungs work for us. The truth is that, like the rest of our body, our lungs require daily care and attention to function at their best.
Breathing feeds oxygen to the cells throughout your body. Without sufficient oxygen, people are more prone to health problems, including respiratory illnesses, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and even heart disease.
But the ordinary breathing that we do day in and out isn’t enough to keep the oxygen flowing through the body at peak levels, according to experts at Rush University Medical Center.
“Lungs at rest and during most daily activities are only at 50 percent of their capacity,” says Gagan Singh, RRT, a respiratory therapist. “Like the rest of your body, lungs thrive on movement and activity.”
Since regular day-to-day activity doesn’t help you use your lungs to full capacity, you need to challenge the lungs with more intense activity.
“And to help counteract the buildup of toxins and tar in the lungs caused by environmental pollutants, allergens, dust and cigarette smoke, you need to help your lungs cleanse themselves,” Singh explains.
Tips to help keep your lungs healthy
ExerciseExercising is a great way to improve lung health. The more you use your lungs, the better your respiratory health will be. Healthy lungs make exercise and physical activity more enjoyable, so this is what’s known as a virtuous circle — the opposite of a vicious circle. As you exercise more, your lung health will improve, and you’ll enjoy exercise more.
Get outsideSince the air is cleaner outdoors than indoors, spend more time outside. Be mindful of the pollen count, however, and stay indoors when your allergies are running rampant.
Improve the indoor air quality in your home
With car exhaust and smokestacks spewing smoke into the air you might think that outdoor air is less clean than indoor air. However, indoor air quality is usually far worse than outdoor air quality. Do what you can to improve the air in your home. Change air filters and clean and vacuum regularly to reduce pollutants and particulates in the air. Consider adding indoor plants to help improve indoor air quality.
It’s is especially important to improve the air quality indoors as temperatures get colder. People tend to spend more time indoors, and less time outdoors, during the winter.
Check for mold and install carbon monoxide detectors
There are many different types of mold, and all of them can cause a slew of respiratory health problems. Mold can grow wherever it’s dark, cool, and damp. It can colonize in indoors and outdoors, behind walls and in attics. If you notice your entire family has respiratory issues, consider testing for mold.
Be sure to install carbon monoxide detectors. If you already have detectors, make sure they work, and check them regularly. This can help limit your family’s exposure to carbon monoxide and radon. Carbon monoxide causes respiratory problems, illness, and even death. Radon also causes respiratory problems, and is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States. Neither radon nor carbon monoxide can be seen, smelled, or tasted, which means that a working detector is the only way to know you’re safe.
Encourage those around you not to smoke
Even if you don’t smoke, you may still be exposed to secondhand smoke. Being around tobacco fumes is called involuntary smoking or passive smoking. There is no way to avoid the harmful chemicals in cigarettes if you’re around tobacco smoke. Secondhand smoke contains exactly the same toxic chemicals found in cigarettes.
Secondhand smoke is known to cause cancer, and can lead to respiratory health problems and other diseases, in the same way that smoking does. There are more than 7,000 identified chemicals in tobacco smoke, including secondhand smoke. Encourage friends and family to stop smoking, and avoid secondhand smoke.
Do not smoke
This is a great way to instantly improve lung health. Smoking is the leading cause of Chronic Obstrucive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). It accounts for 80% of all COPD deaths. However, this means that COPD is largely preventable. You should also be mindful of the fact that smoking doesn’t just affect your personal health, but secondhand smoke affects everyone around you. If you smoke now, ask your healthcare provider about ways to stop smoking.
Improve indoor air qualityWhile you can spend more time outdoors, you still have to spend time in your home. Keep a clean home and wash linens, vacuum, dust, and replace air filters in your home regularly. The EPA recommends that you replace indoor air filters every 60 to 90 days. You may have to do these things more often if you have indoor pets.
MIMI (Multi ion mask insert)
- Can be worn with any facemask and provides additional heavy-duty protection.
- Adult & Youth Sizes Available
Do breathing exercisesYou don’t have to run a marathon to improve your breathing and better your lung health. Practicing your breathing and doing breathing exercises can benefit your respiratory health as well.
HydrationDrinking plenty of water and staying hydrated is important for every aspect of your health, including respiratory health. Proper hydration is a great way to help keep your lungs healthy.
HygieneWash hands regularly to avoid infections. Wash sheets and pillow cases on a regular basis, and replace your pillows every 6 – 12 months.
Consider respiratory care
Physicians should always be a part of your health strategy. Instead of waiting until you’re ill to visit the doctor, work with physicians to maintain wellness.
- Get in the habit of washing your hands with soap and water.
- Don’t touch your face, especially with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with others when transmission is common in your community.
- Stay home if you are sick, to protect others.
- Get vaccines for respiratory illnesses such as the flu virus.
Drink more waterStaying properly hydrated is important for your overall health, and it also helps promote proper lung function. Drinking water helps thin the mucus produced by the lungs, which makes it easier to breathe; this is especially true for people with lung diseases, such as COPD.
Ask your doctor about healthy lungs
Bring up lung health during your next annual wellness exam. Mention any breathing breathing problems, and let your doctor know if you currently smoke or vape or if you used to smoke.
Your primary care physician will help you work towards your goal of having healthy lungs; this may include a referral to a lung specialist, or pulmonologist.