Many people take their lung health for granted, only thinking about it when problems arise, often after it is too late. The truth is that lung diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, and lung cancer, are the number three leading cause of death in the world. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent lung disease and maintain a healthy set of lungs. In this article, we will provide tips and advice on how to maintain healthy lungs, like avoiding lung irritants and monitoring your lung health. Keep reading to learn how to keep your lungs strong!
Avoid Lung Irritants
Exposure to lung irritants can cause inflammation and damage to the lungs, leading to a variety of health problems. Some of the most common lung irritants include cigarette smoke, air pollution, and secondhand smoke.
Cigarette smoke contains over 7,000 chemicals, many of which are toxic and can cause serious harm to the lungs. Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer, leading to about 80-90% of lung cancer deaths. Secondhand smoke, which is smoke exhaled by a smoker and inhaled by a bystander, can also cause serious damage to your lungs if it is frequent. If you are a smoker, the best way you can protect yourself is to quit smoking. If you live with a smoker or spend a lot of time with a smoker, try to limit the time you spend with them while they are actively smoking.
Air pollution is a significant problem in many areas, particularly in densely populated cities or cities with manufacturing plants. Exposure to air pollution can cause a range of respiratory problems, from coughing and wheezing to more serious conditions like asthma and lung cancer. Many weather apps have a section dedicated to air pollution levels. This can tell you what the air quality is like in your area at any given time.
Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
A healthy lifestyle is crucial for maintaining healthy lungs. Regular exercise is essential for maintaining healthy lungs. Exercise works your lungs just like it works your body, which helps to increase lung capacity and strength. The CDC recommends that healthy adults get approximately 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week.
Eating a balanced diet goes hand in hand with exercise. Choose a diet that is rich in nutrient-dense foods like vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. This will help ensure you are getting the right amount of vitamins and minerals necessary for optimal lung function.
Sleep is essential to many bodily functions, including brain health, heart health, and lung health. Studies show that insufficient sleep restricts your lung capacity and can cause long-term damage. The CDC recommends that most adults get at least 7 hours of sleep each night.
Practice Good Respiratory Hygiene
Practicing good respiratory hygiene can prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, which can cause damage to your lungs.
Covering your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze can help prevent the spread of respiratory droplets that can carry viruses and bacteria. Use a tissue when possible, but using the crook of your arm to cover your nose and mouth will work similarly! On top of covering your nose and mouth, you should wash your hands often. It is particularly important to wash your hands before and after touching your nose, eyes, or mouth. Also, try to avoid coming into close contact with people who have colds or other respiratory illnesses like COVID-19.
Your indoor air quality can also have an impact on your lung health. Try using an air purifier or keeping your windows open to reduce the concentration of allergens and irritants in your home.
Monitor Your Lung Health
Regular check-ups and screenings are essential for maintaining your lung health and catching lung disease early. Here are some of the screenings and tests that can help identify lung problems:
- Spirometry. This is a simple test that measures how much air you can breathe in and out, as well as how quickly you can exhale. This test can detect lung conditions like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
- Chest X-Ray. This kind of X-ray can detect issues like lung cancer.
- CT Scan. A CT scan can give doctors a more detailed view of the quality of your lungs. This can be beneficial in diagnosing a range of lung diseases.
Annual check-ups with your healthcare provider can also help identify any changes in your lung function or symptoms that may indicate a problem. If you are experiencing symptoms like shortness of breath, coughing, or chest pain, see your healthcare provider as soon as possible.
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