Fall is in the air, and there is nothing quite like breathing in that crisp autumn air!
Lots of people overlook respiratory health when they decide they want to be healthier. When starting their journey, people generally focus on things like heart health, weight loss, or controlling diabetes. We think it’s time to add respiratory health to the list as numbers for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, and lung cancer are on the rise.
The truth is that your lungs age just like any other body part and can lose their strength, causing respiratory issues to arise. The good news is we are covering the top concerns and sharing some healthy habits that you can implement to keep your lungs functioning optimally for years to come.
Smoking Is Your Biggest Enemy
We all know smoking is most likely the worst thing you can do for your lungs. Not only does smoking increase your chance of developing lung cancer, but those who smoke are at greater risk for a plethora of lung diseases, including COPD, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, and asthma, to name a few.
Every time you smoke a cigarette, you inhale thousands of chemicals into your lungs, including nicotine, carbon monoxide, and tar which cause severe damage to your lungs. These toxins and irritants can increase mucus production, make it more difficult for your lungs to clean themselves, and causes irritation and inflammation, which gradually narrows your airways, making it difficult to breathe.
According to the CDC, it only takes 12 hours of quitting for carbon monoxide levels in your blood to go back to normal. Within months, your lungs function more optimally, and your risk of heart disease drops by 50% within a year. You can quit smoking at any age, any time, no matter how long you’ve been a smoker. For many quitting can take a couple of attempts, but the best attempts are a combination of counseling and medication.
Strengthen Your Lungs With Exercise
Get those lungs in shape to live a long and healthy life by making time to exercise. When you work out, your lungs work harder to get more oxygen to your muscles and force carbon dioxide out, thus strengthening your lungs. Now we aren’t telling you to do strenuous exercise for extended periods of time, but rather encouraging you to work out thirty minutes, three to four times a week. Aerobic exercise or cardio is the best type of exercise for strengthening the lungs. This type of exercise causes the muscles between your ribs to expand and contract, and the air sacs inside your lungs work quickly to exchange oxygen for carbon dioxide. The more you exercise, the more efficient your lungs become and the more resistant they become to aging and disease.
Limit Exposure To Pollutants
Depending on where you live and what products you use, you might be exposed to tons of pollutants in the air daily. When you are young, your lungs can easily resist these toxins, but as you age, your lungs lose some of that resistance and become more vulnerable to infections and disease.
There are both indoor and outdoor pollutants to look out for. Outdoor pollutants include secondhand smoke, pollutants given off by emissions from vehicles, smoke produced in factories, and certain airborne pollutants that come from construction, mining, and waste management. Indoor pollutants can include dust, synthetic air fresheners, mold, pet dander, and chemicals from cleaning products.
Limiting exposure to the pollutants above can help your lungs stay healthy. Some of these pollutants can be irritants that cause allergic reactions in some people, so it’s essential to learn which pollutants are also irritants for you and be extra careful to avoid them.
Staying Clear Of Lung Infections
While anyone can experience a lung infection at any age, it can be perilous for the elderly and those who suffer from lung diseases like COPD or asthma. Lung infections can form from colds and the flu, where the virus or bacteria attacks your respiratory system.
To ensure your immune system is up for the fight against bacteria and viruses, it’s important to practice good hand hygiene. Keep hands clean by frequently washing with warm water and soap as well as sanitizing. Try to avoid touching your face, eyes, and mouth with dirty hands. There are also plenty of great supplements and vitamins to help support your immune system. Vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, and elderberry are a few great choices. It’s also important to drink plenty of water and eat lots of fruits and vegetables as they contain nutrients that help boost your immune system.
While boosting the immune system is crucial for fighting off viruses and bacteria that can cause harm, it’s also vital to consider vaccines. The COVID-19 virus attacks the respiratory system and can cause severe damage to your lungs, and can be fatal to those with existing respiratory conditions like asthma and COPD. Your best defense against COVID is to get vaccinated and strongly consider receiving the booster shot as well to keep you best protected. Aside from COVID, the flu starts to pop up around this time; we recommend staying up to date with your yearly flu shot as well to lessen your risk of lung infection further. Those over 65 are highly encouraged to receive their flu vaccine annually to keep their respiratory system healthy and free of harm.
Healthy Lungs Are Our Top Priority
Unfortunately, most of the population ignores respiratory symptoms such as shortness of breath or a cough that won’t go away. If you’re experiencing these kinds of symptoms, it’s time to check in with our friendly team of licensed clinicians. From asthma to helping you quit smoking, our team is ready 24/7 to help you take the next step to better respiratory health. As if that’s not already reason to breathe easier, we happily offer affordable medications to keep your lungs functioning optimally with free delivery right to your door. Take the first step to healthier lungs for life with GeniusRx.