Sometimes we take our lungs for granted. They keep us alive and well and for the most part, we don't need to think about them. Until we do...
Your body has a natural defense system designed to protect the lungs, keeping dirt and germs at bay. But there are some important things you can do to reduce your risk of lung disease. Here are some ways to keep your lungs healthy.
Cigarette smoking is the major cause of lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Cigarette smoke can narrow the air passages and make breathing more difficult. It causes chronic inflammation, or swelling in the lung, which can lead to chronic bronchitis. Over time cigarette smoke destroys lung tissue and may trigger changes that grow into cancer.
If you smoke, it's never too late to benefit from quitting.
Get Regular Check-ups
Regular check-ups help prevent diseases, even when you are feeling well. This is especially true for lung disease, which sometimes goes undetected until it is serious. During a check-up, your healthcare provider will listen to your breathing and listen to your concerns.
Physical activity can reduce your risk of serious illness, including heart disease, stroke, diabetes and some forms of cancer, including lung cancer. Being active can help you stay healthy by strengthening bones, improving flexibility and agility, reducing weight gain and improving sleep. Regular exercise is good for your head, too. It can reduce feelings of anxiety and depression, improve attention and memory, and reduce the risk of dementia, including Alzheimer's disease.
A cold or other respiratory infection can sometimes become very serious. There are several things you can do to protect yourself:
Avoid Exposure to Pollutants
The air quality outside can vary from day to day, and sometimes is unhealthy to breathe. Knowing how outdoor air pollution affects your health and useful strategies to minimize prolonged exposure can help keep you and your family well. Avoid exercising outdoors on bad air days.
Secondhand smoke, chemicals in the home and workplace, and radon can all cause or worsen lung disease. Make your home and car smokefree. Test your home for radon. And talk to your healthcare provider if you are worried that something may be making you sick.
When you have healthy lungs, breathing is natural and easy. You breathe in and out with your diaphragm, filling your lungs with a mixture of oxygen and other gases, and then sending the waste gas out. Over time, stale air builds up, leaving less room for the diaphragm to contract and bring in fresh oxygen. With the diaphragm not working to full capacity, the body starts to use other muscles in the neck, back and chest for breathing.
This translates into lower oxygen levels, and less reserve for exercise and activity.
If practiced regularly, breathing exercises can help rid the lungs of accumulated stale air, increase your oxygen levels and get the diaphragm to return to its job of helping you breathe.
Resources For You
What Do I Ask the Doctor?
When you visit the doctor, it helps to have questions written down ahead of time. Print this list of questions and take it to your next appointment.
Content provided by American Lung Association
This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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