5 tips for healthy lungs
Like the rest of our body, our lungs need rest
1. Don’t smoke or stop smoking
You probably already know that smoking increases your risk of lung cancer. But that’s not the only disease it can cause. In fact, smoking is linked to most lung diseases, including COPD, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, and asthma. It also makes those diseases more severe. Smokers are 12 to 13 times Trusted Source more likely to die from COPD than non-smokers, for example.
Every time you smoke a cigarette, you inhale thousands of chemicals into your lungs, including nicotine, carbon monoxide, and tar. These toxins damage your lungs. They increase mucus, make it more difficult for your lungs to clean themselves, and irritate and inflame tissues. Gradually, your airways narrow, making it more difficult to breathe.
Smoking also causes the lungs to age more rapidly. Eventually, the chemicals can change lung cells from normal to cancerous.
More than 10 times as many have died prematurely from cigarette smoking than have died in all the wars fought during its history. In addition, smoking causes about 90 percent of all lung cancer deaths in men and women. More women die from lung cancer each year than from breast cancer.
No matter how old you are or how long you’ve been a smoker, quitting can help. The ALA states that within just 12 hours of quitting, the carbon monoxide level in your blood drops to normal. Within a few months, your lung function begins to improve. Within a year, your risk of coronary heart disease is half that of a smoker. And it only gets better the longer you stay smoke-free.
Quitting usually takes several attempts. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it. Combining counseling and medication may be the best way to succeed,
2. Exercise to breathe harder
Besides avoiding cigarettes, getting regular exercise is probably the most important thing you can do for the health of your lungs. Just as exercise keeps your body in shape, it keeps your lungs in shape too.
When you exercise, your heart beats faster and your lungs work harder. Your body needs more oxygen to fuel your muscles. Your lungs step up their activity to deliver that oxygen while expelling additional carbon dioxide.
During exercise, your breathing increases from about 15 times a minute to about 40 to 60 times a minute. That’s why it’s important to regularly do aerobic exercise that gets you breathing hard.
This type of exercise provides the best workout for your lungs. The muscles between your ribs 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.
Creating strong, healthy lungs through exercise helps you to better resist aging and disease. Even if you do develop lung disease down the road, exercise helps to slow the progression and keeps you active longer.
3. Avoid exposure to pollutants
Exposure to pollutants in the air can damage your lungs and accelerate aging. When they’re young and strong, your lungs can easily resist these toxins. As you get older, though, they lose some of that resistance and become more vulnerable to infections and disease.
Give your lungs a break. Reduce your exposure as much as you can:
Avoid second-hand smoke, and try not to go outside during peak air pollution times.
Avoid exercising near heavy traffic, as you can inhale the exhaust.
If you’re exposed to pollutants at work, be sure to take all possible safety precautions. Certain jobs in construction, mining, and waste management can increase the risk of exposure to airborne pollutants.
the indoor pollution is typically worse than outdoor. That, plus the fact that many spend most of their time indoors these days, increases exposure to indoor pollutants.
Here are some tips for decreasing indoor pollutants:
Make your home a smoke-free zone.
Dust the furniture and vacuum at least once a week.
Open a window frequently to increase indoor air ventilation.
Avoid synthetic air fresheners and candles that can expose you to additional chemicals like formaldehyde and benzene. Instead, use an aromatherapy diffuser and essential oils to more naturally scent the air.
Keep your home as clean as you can. Meld, dust, and pet dander can all get into your lungs and cause irritation.
Use natural cleaning products when possible, and open a window when using products that create fumes.
Make sure you have adequate fans, exhaust hoods, and other ventilation methods throughout your home.
4. Prevent infections
Infections can be particularly dangerous for your lungs, especially as you age. Those who already have lung diseases like COPD are particularly at risk for infections. Even healthy seniors, though, can easily develop pneumonia if they’re not careful.
The best way to avoid lung infections is to keep your hands clean. Wash regularly with warm water and soap, and avoid touching your face as much as possible.
Drink plenty of water and eat lots of fruits and vegetables — they contain nutrients that help boost your immune system.
Stay up-to-date with your vaccinations. Get a flu shot each year, and if you’re 65 or older, get a pneumonia vaccination as well.
5. Breathe deeply If you’re like many people, you take shallow breaths from your chest area, using only a small portion of your lungs. Deep breathing helps clear the lungs and creates a full oxygen exchange.
The ALA agrees that breathing exercises can make your lungs more efficient. To try it yourself, sit somewhere quietly, and slowly breathe in through your nose alone. Then breathe out at least twice as long through your mouth. It may help to count your breaths. For example, as you inhale count 1-2-3-4. Then as you exhale, count 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8.
Shallow breaths come from the chest, and deeper breaths come from the belly, where your diaphragm sits. Be aware of your belly rising and falling as you practice. When you do these exercises, you may also find you feel less stressed and more relaxed.
The doctor will see you now
If your lungs are damaged or you have a serious illness like COPD or lung cancer, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
Shortness of breath during simple activities
Pain when breathing
Dizziness with a change inactivity
A persistent cough
Wheezing with exercise
Cough associated with exercising
Pain in the airway (the path that air follows to get into and out of the lungs)
See your doctor if you have any of these symptoms. They can run tests to figure out the cause or refer you to a specialist if needed.
If you have a history of smoking, talk to your doctor about how often you should have your lungs checked. The good news is that if you stop smoking, you can recover from the damage and track your progress during check-ups.
What are the differences between a smoker’s lungs and healthy lungs
Smoking is one of the biggest threats to lung function. It changes the structure and function of the lungs, making breathing difficult and increasing the risk of numerous medical conditions.
The lungs are part of the respiratory system, which takes oxygen in from the air and removes carbon dioxide. Although several factors may compromise lung function, including genetic diseases, infections, and environmental exposures, smoking remains one of the most dangerous.
In this article, we discuss the functional and structural differences between a smoker’s lungs and healthy lungs. We also provide some tips on quitting smoking and improving lung function.
The main symptoms of lung cancer include:
a cough that doesn’t go away after 2 or 3 weeks.
a long-standing cough that gets worse.
chest infections that keep coming back.
coughing up blood.
an ache or pain when breathing or coughing.
persistent tiredness or lack of energy.
Lung cancer treatment
for lung cancer will depend on the type of lung cancer you have, the stage of cancer, how well you can breathe (your lung function), and your general health. If you are a smoker, your doctor will advise you to stop smoking before you start t
What is the aim of treatment
For early or locally advanced non-small cell lung cancer, limited-stage small cell lung cancer, treatment may be given with the aim of making all signs and symptoms of cancer go away. This is called curative treatment.
Because lung cancer causes vague symptoms in the early stages, many people are diagnosed when the cancer is advanced. This means cancer has spread outside the lung to other parts of the body. The goal of treatment is to maintain quality of life by controlling cancer, slowing down its spread, and managing any symptoms. This is called palliative treatment.
For further information send email to [email protected], SEND TEXT MESSAGE TO DR AZADEH ON WHATSAPP 002207774469.
Author: Dr. Hassan Azadeh, Senior Lecturer at the University of The Gambia, Clinical Director at Medicare Health Services.