October is Healthy Lung Month in the United States. This is a time for people of all ages and backgrounds to come together to brainstorm ideas to combat chronic illnesses like asthma, COPD, and lung cancer. Additionally, it’s a time to raise awareness for the harmful effects of smoking and air pollution, both of which lead to millions of instances of respiratory illness every year.
If you’ve ever been a health activist before, you know that in order to cause a major disturbance in the way that people think about their health, you need to start small. For this reason, If you’re looking to make the most of your time this Healthy Lung Month, you need to start by examining your own health first.
In this post, we’ll take a look at five key things you should be doing in order to promote healthy lungs. In the meantime, If you’re looking for further reading, the American Lung Association has a great resource page that can help you become an advocate for lung health.
1. Drop the Cigarettes for Good
Cigarettes and other inhaled drugs like e-cigarettes and marijuana are quite simply the worst things you can do for your lungs. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention labels smoking as the leading cause of preventable death not just in the United States, but worldwide.
When a cigarette is lit, it releases around 7,000 chemicals that cause irreversible damage to the structure and function of the lungs. And if that’s not enough, it’s worth noting that nicotine is an immunosuppressive drug, meaning it impairs your body’s ability to fight infection as well as chronic illnesses like diabetes and COPD.
2. Create an Exercise Plan
Exercise is another component of a lung-healthy life. Consistent and adequate exercise strengthens the muscles in the lungs and prevents the buildup of plaque in the arteries, meaning blood will flow more easily throughout the body without your lungs having to work overtime.
Cancer.net recommends aerobic exercises for 150 minutes a week for both healthy adults and people with a respiratory condition, however, more than this can only help. While there’s no need to perform any specific type of exercise, you will want to ensure that you’re exercising consistently.
3. Create a Lung-Healthy Diet
Believe it or not, your diet has a huge impact on your lungs. A healthy diet will promote easy and efficient breathing while a poor diet could make you more prone to respiratory infection and chronic lung disease. According to the World Health Organization, vitamin A is one of the best ways to combat acute lower respiratory tract infections while speeding the recovery or reducing its severity if you already have it. Sources of vitamin A include eggs, orange and yellow vegetables, and green leafy vegetables.
Aside from food, you need to consume a high amount of water in order to maintain healthy lungs. Water is absolutely necessary for preventing respiratory infection because it helps regulate mucus production in the chest and hydrates every cell in the body including immune cells. While water consumption is a highly debated subject, most health specialists recommend at least eight glasses or two liters of water every day.
4. See a Doctor
Let’s face it, most of us try to avoid going to the doctor if we don’t absolutely need to go. And while this may work for a while, eventually this plan starts to show its holes. As we age, the chance that we’ll experience health issues increases significantly, and this is no different when it comes to our lung health.
According to the COPD Foundation, 63 percent of adults with signs of decreased lung function have never been diagnosed with respiratory condition. This is significant because many lung conditions progress slowly over the course of many years. If you go to the doctor for regular checkups, they’ll be more likely to catch the warning signs of conditions like asthma, COPD, or lung cancer.
5. Get Your Community Involved
Now that you’ve taken some time to evaluate your own lung health, it’s time to spread awareness to people in your community. If you’re interested, you can check online to see if there are any Healthy Lung Month events going on in your area. These are a great opportunity to meet like-minded people and discover new ways to help people suffering from chronic lung conditions.
If you know someone who’s coping with a chronic respiratory disease or they’re struggling with smoking cessation, now might be a good time to reach out to them. While it may seem like you’re a burden on them, many people lack the support they need and will accept your offer with open arms.
It’s great that we have a full month dedicated to raising awareness for lung health, but healthy lungs are something we should be pursuing all year long, not just in October. If you notice yourself starting to get discouraged, just remember that all good things come in small packages. And more often than not, you need to help yourself feel healthy and strong before you’ll be able to help others.
About The Author:
Daniel is a writer for LPT Medical and has a passion for all things health and well-being. With his work, he aims to raise awareness for chronic respiratory conditions like COPD and asthma, while providing actionable lifestyle tips to those coping with them.