Everyone wants to get a healthy body. But, rarely, do they think about the health of their lungs. Many times, we take our lungs for granted. For overall health, you need to maintain the health of your lungs too. In the era of COVID-19, it is now more necessary to protect and strengthen your lungs for the proper functioning of your respiratory system. Here you will find 5 best ways to keep your lungs healthy and strong.
As per a study conducted by ‘University of Washington’s Global Burden of Disease’, 2018, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), a lung disease, was the second-highest cause of death in India after heart disease in 2017, which killed almost 1 million (958,000) Indians in 2017. COPD and Asthma contributed to three-fourths and one-fifth of ‘Disability-adjusted life years (DALYs)‘ in 2016, respectively.
The truth is that just like your heart, joints, and other parts of your body, your lungs also age with time. They lose their flexibility and strength, which causes difficulty in breathing.
But the great news is that you can easily maintain the health of your lungs, and keep them working well even in old age by adopting following healthy habits, which can keep your lungs healthy and strong naturally.
1. Stop smoking
Everywhere we read “smoking is injurious to health” but seldom do we follow it. Smoking is not only linked to lung cancer (Smoking is the no.1 cause of lung cancer), but also causes many other lung diseases, like COPD, pulmonary fibrosis, and asthma. It also makes those diseases more severe. Smokers are more prone to die from COPD than nonsmokers.
A person inhales thousands of chemicals into the lungs, including ‘nicotine‘, ‘carbon monoxide’, and ‘tar’ when he or she smokes a cigarette. These toxins damage the lungs. Smoking decreases the capacity of the lungs to clean themselves by producing unwanted mucus and by irritating and inflaming the lung’s tissues. Gradually with time, the airways of the lungs become narrow, which further causes difficulty in breathing.
Lungs tend to age more rapidly due to Smoking. Quitting smoking at any age can help to prevent further damage to your lungs. We know, that quitting is not easy, but it’s worth it. With the help of counseling, medication, and willpower, you can quit smoking.
So, stop smoking now! For you and your family.
2. Avoid infections
Infections can be dangerous for the lungs, especially when you age. The person who already has lung diseases like COPD are at more risk of getting infections. Pneumonia is the most common ailment due to lung infections. Children and old people are more prone to get pneumonia.
To avoid lung infections, follow these instructions: –
- Keep your hands clean – Wash your hands regularly with water and soap. Don’t touch your face and nose as much as possible.
- Wear Masks – Always wear the right mask if you visit any hospital, crowded area, or at any construction site or mining site to avoid the inhalation of dust and pollutants.
- Drink plenty of water – Drinking a lot of water helps to rehydrate yourself.
- Eat a nutritious diet – Take lots of seasonal fruits and vegetables to provide the essential nutrients to boost your immune system.
- Be hygienic – Take care of your hygiene. Don’t eat anything without washing your hands with soap properly. You can use sanitizers outdoors. Take care of your oral hygiene by regularly brushing your teeth.
- Social distancing – If you or someone near to you, is having an infection, keep a social distancing to avoid the further spread of the infection.
- Medication – Don’t ignore any flu or cough and take proper treatment in the beginning so that the infection can’t reach your lungs.
3. Exercise to breathe deeply
For proper functioning of your immune system, body tissues require a sufficient quantity of Oxygen. The deficiency of oxygen to body cells is the single greatest cause of all diseases.
Doing regular exercise and Yoga not only keeps you fit but also maintains the health of your lungs. Exercise causes deep breathing which helps to clear the lungs and creates a full oxygen exchange. The researchers found that deep breathing, even for just a few minutes, was beneficial for lung function.
Breathing provides oxygen to every cell of your body. Without sufficient oxygen, people are more prone to health problems, including respiratory illnesses, COPD, and even heart disease.
Exercise increases your heartbeats and so your lungs work harder. When you exercise your body needs more oxygen to give energy to your muscles. In that case, your lungs take more oxygen and expel additional carbon dioxide.
Everyone knows that “laughter is the best medicine”. It is also true in the case of the health of your lungs. Laughing causes, healthy contraction and relaxation of the abdominal muscles and thus increases lung capacity.
Laughing helps to clear out the stale air from your lungs by expanding the ‘alveoli‘ (the tiny air sacs present in the lungs) and allows fresh air to enter into the lungs by exchanging oxygen (O2) with carbon dioxide (CO2). It means that more exchange of oxygen and more oxygen enters in your lungs.”
Laughing also helps to release ‘endorphins‘ and ‘enkephalins‘ which can help relieve stress and even act as a natural pain killer. laughter also enhances the mood and works as a stress buster. Depression has become a plague in our modern society that, according to science, can be kept at bay by laughing.
Like other sports activities such as running, swimming, or breathing exercises, a good laugh clears out the stale air from alveoli and provides space for fresh air that can reach more parts of your lungs.
5. Check Your Air Quality
Polluted and dirty air could affect anyone, but this is especially serious for children, old people, and those who are having other health issues. You can check the level of pollution in your surrounding air by The Air Quality Index (AQI). AQI tracks pollution that may come from industries, vehicles, construction sites, dust, pollen, and other sources on a scale from 0 to 500.
High pollution in the air is harmful to the health of the lungs. By following some tips, you can decrease at least the indoor pollutants:
- Make your home a smoke-free zone.
- Clean your furniture and remove dust at least once a week.
- Clean your carpets on a daily basis.
- Keep your window open as much as possible for proper indoor air ventilation.
- Don’t use synthetic air fresheners and candles as they release harmful chemicals like formaldehyde and benzene. Instead, they use an aromatherapy diffuser and essential oils to more naturally scent the air.
- Keep your home neat and clean on a daily basis. It will give a pleasant look as well as hygiene to make you healthy.
- Your home should be properly ventilated. You can use fans, exhaust hoods, and other ventilation methods.
- Improve indoor air quality by using indoor air filters and de-humidifiers.
Apart from these ways, get regular health check-ups and prevent the diseases, by early detection of any infection. Regular health check-ups can detect any issue related to your breathing and lung health at the earliest.
It is a good practice to detect any health issues before they get out of hand. This may be especially important for lung diseases. Your doctor will listen to your breathing & lungs and examine your chest for any possible fault.
Even if you don’t have any health issues, you should visit your doctor or healthcare provider, at least once a year.
Incorporate these five habits into your daily life: Stop smoking, avoid exposure to infections, exercise regularly and breathe deeply, laugh out loud, and reduce your exposure to pollutants.
If you have a history of smoking, talk to your doctor about how often you should have your lungs checked. By keeping an eye on your lifestyle, you can help keep your lungs working optimally for life.