We typically don’t spend a lot of time thinking about our lungs until there’s a problem with breathing, but it’s important to know the considerable role they play in keeping us strong and healthy. Just like the rest of your body, your lungs need daily care and attention.
According to the National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute, chronic lower respiratory diseases – including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma – were the third leading cause of death in 2010. Lung diseases, excluding lung cancer, caused an estimated 235,000 deaths that year.
Just like other parts of your body, your lungs age with time. They can become less flexible and lose their strength, which can cause breathing problems. Fortunately, there are things you can do to improve your lung health and keep them working optimally as you age.
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5 Tips for Improving Lung Health
1. Don’t Smoke or Stop Smoking
Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer and COPD, which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Over time, cigarette smoke destroys lung tissue and can trigger changes that grow into cancer. Regardless of your age, quitting smoking can help you avoid these lung diseases. It’s not easy, but it’s definitely worth it.
2. Avoid Exposure to Indoor Pollutants
Secondhand smoke, chemicals in the home and workplace, and radon can all cause or worsen lung disease. Make your home and car smoke-free and have your home tested for radon. If you think something in your home, work, or school is affecting your lungs, talk with your doctor.
3. Minimize Your Exposure to Outdoor Pollutants
Outdoor air quality can change from day to day and is sometimes unhealthy to breathe. Being aware of outdoor air pollution and avoiding it as much as possible can help keep you and your family well.
4. Increase Your Activity Level
Getting regular exercise can help improve your lung health and overall wellbeing. Even a brisk walk or riding a bike can give your lungs valuable exercise as well as improve your mood. When you exercise, your heart beats faster and your lungs work harder. Creating strong, healthy lungs through exercise helps you better resist aging and disease.
5. Prevent Infection
A cold or other respiratory infection can sometimes become serious and negatively affect your lungs. Here are some things you can do to protect yourself:
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water. If that’s not possible, use hand sanitizer.
- Avoid crowds during cold and flu season.
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day to keep germs in your mouth from causing infections. Also, see your dentist every six months for a checkup and cleaning.
- Get vaccinated for the flu every year. Talk to your doctor to see if a pneumonia vaccine is right for you.
- If you get sick, avoid others as much as possible. Protect those around you by keeping your distance and stay home from school or work until you’re better.
Take Care of Your Lungs
Maintaining the health of your lungs is important and goes a long way towards improving your quality of life as you age. If you suspect any health problems related to your lungs, talk with your doctor. Connect with a respiratory care provider from Baptist Health if you’re seeking pulmonary care or treatment in Kentucky or Southern Indiana.