As we age, the strength of our lungs decreases, slowly making it hard for the organ to hold a great amount of air. A human body has a natural defense system to protect the lungs, keeping infections at bay. What about when we consciously put stress on our lungs by smoking, or following a sedentary lifestyle? Such conditions open the door to respiratory diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), other lung infections, or even cancer.
Before your body shows alarming signs such as difficulty in breathing and shortness of breath, learn about some ways to keep your lungs strong & healthy.
1. Quit Smoking
It’s never too late to benefit from kicking the cigarette butt. Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer worldwide, and over time, smoking destroys lung tissues, reducing their capacity for proper air flow, making breathing difficult. Quitting smoking can altogether lower your risk of stomach, pancreas, liver, cervix, colon, and rectum cancer, as well as acute myeloid leukemia (AML). In times of COVID-19, smokers have 50% higher risk of developing severe illnesses as compared to non-smokers.
2. Avoid Second-Hand Smoke
When you are around someone who is smoking, you inhale the same toxins as the smoker. The only way you can save yourself is to avoid exposure. Don’t be around someone who is smoking cigarettes or other forms of tobacco. Even secondhand smoke has more than 4,000 chemicals, which are enough to damage your lungs. Daily exposure to such an environment can make you prone to lung diseases or can even cause cancer.
3. Avoid Exposure to Pollutants
It’s true the air we breathe in is not at all healthy, especially for the people living in large cities, where the air quality is gradually getting worse, affecting the lung & triggering respiratory diseases in younger adults. It is advisable to minimize exposure from vehicular and other forms of outdoor air pollution, install a quality air purifier at home, and avoid going near industrial areas.
4. Practice Deep Breathing
Breathe in, breathe out! We do this all day, every day without a thought. But when was the last time you took time in practice deep breathing? Breathing exercises help in getting you closer to reach the full capacity of your lungs. Firstly, deep breathing should be done slowly and gently, with the focus being on expanding your belly, while lowering the diaphragm. Gradually, the focus will be on allowing the upper chest to expand and lift.
Do the opposite when you exhale, let the chest fall while contracting the ribs, and bring the stomach muscles in and up to lift the diaphragm. Breathe out the last bit of air, as this will help you release all the tension & stress to relax your mind and body.
5. Staying Active
A person who does not exercise regularly may experience difficulty in breathing. Even a short period of exertion can lead to breathlessness, explain Senior Pulmonologist at AMRI Hospitals. In the beginning, we advise to go for moderate level activity and increase the intensity accordingly. Aim for at least 20 minutes of consistent movement that includes brisk walk, jogging, or cycling. You can start with three days in a week and then take it to all seven days, not only to keep the lungs healthy but also to enhance cardiovascular health.
Both environmental & lifestyle factors can aggravate lung-related issues. Preventing respiratory problems from an early age reduces the risk of life-threatening issues in adult life. If you experience trouble breathing or any other issues, consult your doctor immediately to rule out long-term impact of respiratory and lung disorders.