Our lungs are one of the hardest working organs in the body. In fact, the average person takes around 20,000 breaths per day — so it's no wonder that we notice even the smallest reduction in lung function. Our health habits, environment, and genes can wreak havoc with our respiratory health. With COVID-19 a significant concern for people with respiratory conditions, it's never been more important to give your lungs some TLC.
Whether you’re young or old, have a lung condition or not, there are simple things we can all do to promote good lung health. Here are five ways you can give your lungs some TLC during COVID-19.
Pollution in the air takes its toll on our lungs. In a 2014 study by the European Study of Cohorts for Air Pollution Effects (ESCAPE), it was found that air pollution has adverse effects on lung function in adults even at very low levels. Pollutants cause airways to constrict, leading to shortness of breath and an increase in symptoms of conditions such as asthma and COPD.
In addition, exposure to allergens like pet dander, dust mites, and mold can cause inflammation in the airways and make them produce excess mucous — making breathing even more difficult. To give your lungs some TLC, check the air quality whenever you leave your home. If there's an ozone alert or the pollen count is high, try to limit your time outdoors.
Work Up a Sweat
Exercise is great for your lungs. Not only does regular exercise increase your cardiovascular fitness, but it can also make your lungs more efficient at moving oxygen into the bloodstream, while also removing carbon dioxide.
Whether you enjoy aerobic activities like cycling or muscle-strengthening activities like Pilates, exercise is essential to keeping your lungs in top condition. If you're looking for a respiratory specific activity, try working on breathing exercises. Breathing exercises can strengthen your diaphragm and train your lungs to breathe more deeply and more efficiently. Before starting a new exercise regime, it's crucial to discuss your plans with your healthcare provider.
Get a Flu Shot
Flu season is just around the corner. If you have a respiratory condition, you can reduce your risk of catching the flu by getting a flu shot. Although the flu shot doesn't guarantee you won't get influenza, it significantly reduces your risk. Various types of influenza viruses circulate each flu season, and they are continually evolving each year. The flu shot is very effective at protecting you from some of the most common types of influenza. It does this by helping your body produce antibodies against the influenza virus, so if you are infected, your immune system is equipped to fight it.
As it can take up to two weeks to build your peak protection against the flu, you should ideally get your vaccination in November, or whenever your doctor recommends it.
As well as getting a flu shot, you should also aim to protect yourself from other viruses and infections, including COVID-19. According to the American Lung Association, the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the COVID-19 virus. You can take the following steps to help protect yourself from possible infection:
- Maintain safe social distance - Keeping a distance of least six feet from people outside of your household.
- Wash your hands regularly - Scrub your hands with soap and water for at least 30 seconds whenever you can, or use hand sanitizer when you can't wash. In addition, you should avoid touching your face while outside of your home.
- Wear a mask - Face masks that cover both your nose and mouth should be worn outside the home whenever possible.
Be Proactive With Your Healthcare
If you have a respiratory condition, it's vital that you make regular appointments with your doctor to ensure your treatment plan is working. If you notice an increase in your symptoms, it's crucial that you report this to your healthcare provider. New symptoms or changes in severity could mean that your treatment plan is no longer effective, and you may need to take a new approach. In addition, you should continue to take all of your medications as your doctor prescribed — even if you feel well.
Give your lungs some extra TLC this fall by making small changes to your daily life. To find out more about Airehealth's nebulizer and how it could help you, click here.