The lungs help us breathe and are very critical for survival of a person. However, most people do not think about protecting and maintaining the health of their lungs.
According to the National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute, chronic lower respiratory diseases was known to be the third leading cause of death in 2010. The reports says that lung diseases in total, excluding lung cancer, accounts for more than 200,000 deaths in the year 2010. If lung cancer is factored in, the numbers go up more.
Here are the 5 healthy ways to keep your lungs healthy as advised by the specialists at Medanta the Med city, a renowned medical facility in India.
1. Don’t smoke or stop smoking
Smoking not only increases the risk of lung cancer, it also increases the person’s likeliness to get lung diseases, such as COPD, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, and asthma. Smoking is known to make these diseases more severe. For instance, smokers are 12 to 13 times more likely to die from COPD than from someone who has never smoked.
Smoking also causes lungs to age more rapidly. Eventually, the chemicals in cigarettes and tobacco products can change the normal lung cells to become cancerous.
No matter how old a person is quitting can help. The ALA states that in 12 hours of quitting, the carbon monoxide levels in the blood drop to the normal values. Within a few months, the lung function begins to improve and within a year, the risk of coronary heart disease is reduced to half to that of a smoker. And it keeps on improving the longer a person stays smoke-free.
Quitting takes several attempts and it is not an easy task, but it’s worth it. Counselling and medication are the best way to succeed.
2. Exercise the lung to breathe better
Besides avoiding and quitting cigarettes, getting a regular exercise is also the most important thing one can do for the health of their lungs. Just like the exercise keeps the body in shape, it keeps the lungs in shape too.
When a person exercise, the heart has to beat faster and the lungs have to work harder. The body requires more oxygen to fuel the muscles, which causes the lungs to increase their activity and deliver more oxygen along with expelling additional carbon dioxide.
During exercise, the breathing increases from about 15 times a minute to about 40 to 60 times a minute. This is the reason why it’s so important to regularly do aerobic exercise that gets the lung to work hard.
There are several exercises that can improve the functioning of the lungs. The muscles between the ribs expand and contract, and the air sacs inside the lungs work all the time to quickly exchange oxygen for carbon dioxide. The higher a person exercises, the more efficient their lungs become.
Creating strong, healthy lungs through exercise helps a person to resist aging and diseases.
3. Avoid exposure to pollutants
Exposure to pollutants in the air will damage the lungs and accelerate their aging. When the lungs are young, they can easily resist these toxins. As a person gets older, the lungs tend to lose resistance and become more vulnerable to infections.
Reduce the exposure by the following means:
● Avoid secondhand smoke, avoid going outside during peak air pollution times.
● Avoid exercising near heavy traffic, this can make the person inhale a lot of pollutants.
● If the person is exposed to pollutants at work, safety precautions should be taken at all possible times.
Some tips to decrease indoor pollutants:
● Make the house a smoke-free zone.
● Dust and vacuum the furniture at least once a week.
● Open the windows more frequently to increase air ventilation.
● Avoid synthetic air fresheners and candles.
● Keep the house as clean as you can.
● Make sure there are adequate fans and exhaust chambers to maintain ventilation.
4. Prevent infections
Infections are very dangerous for the lungs, especially in the elder people. Those who already have lung diseases such as COPD are particularly at a higher risk for infections.
Even healthy elders, though, if not being careful can contract pneumonia. The best way to keep the infections at bay is to keep the hands clean and wash them with soap and water as much as possible.
5. Breathe deeply
Most people usually prefer to take shallow breaths. This only uses a small area of the lung. Deep breathing is known to increase the clearer entry of air into your lungs and helps with better oxygen exchange. The vital capacity is the maximum amount of air the person can exhale from their lungs. Upon various studies, it has been concluded that people who consider taking deeper breaths are known to have better lung functioning. Breathing exercises can make the lungs more efficient. To try, sit somewhere quietly, and slowly breathe in through the nose alone. Then breathe out twice as much as through your mouth. It helps if the breaths are counted. For example, as you inhale count 1-2-3-4. While exhaling you should count 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8.