It’s easy to take good respiratory health for granted — you take tens of thousands of breaths every day and hardly notice them until there’s a problem. But it’s important to take care of your lungs — they’re the only way for oxygen to get into the body. Here are some easy ways to take care of these vital organs.
Quit smoking! Avoid tobacco smoke whenever possible, whether it’s direct or secondhand. Smoking keeps cilia — tiny hairs inside the lungs that help to push out mucus and contaminants — from doing their job. They’re essentially frozen by tobacco smoke. But if you quit smoking, they’ll start working again.
Get a flu shot. Influenza is a respiratory illness, and the disease itself or complications from it kill as many as 35,000 Americans each year. Get an annual flu shot, and ask your doctor if you should get a pneumonia shot, too.
Maintain a healthy lifestyle. Try to eat a well-balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, and get regular exercise.
Try to avoid air pollution. Jogging or exercising next to a highway or busy city street can expose you to pollution from car exhaust and diesel fumes. Try indoor exercise, jog along quieter streets, or exercise outdoors at times of day with less vehicular traffic. Check you local air quality reports, and try to stay inside if air quality for that day is poor.
If you have asthma or allergies, try to avoid allergens. Clean indoor air pollutants, dust mites, and mold from your home. Vacuum regularly, change your indoor air filters, and consider getting some indoor plants to help purify the air quality. If you’re painting or cleaning with smelly products, run fans or open windows.
Protect yourself when working. When in an environment with chemicals, fumes, asbestos, or other toxic substances, make sure that you’re wearing the proper face mask, ventilator, or protective gear for the job.
Consider testing for radon. Radon gas occurs naturally in soil and rocks across the country, and it’s the second leading cause of lung cancer behind smoking. Testing kits are available in hardware stores, but you can also call an expert to come test your home for you.
This week is Respiratory Care Week, and October 27th is Lung Health Day. Don’t neglect your respiratory health. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths among both men and women in the United States — a sobering reminder that it’s important to take care of your lungs.