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Help Your Lungs Last a Lifetime

Help Your Lungs Last a Lifetime

Every time we humans breathe, which — on average, is more than 23,000 times per day — our lungs are hard at work. In addition to making breathing possible, the lungs' job description extends to enabling every other bodily organ to function by delivering oxygen through the bloodstream and disposing of carbon dioxide.

Given the crucial role our lungs play, we want this vital organ to last a lifetime. October is National Healthy Lung Month, and ATRIO Health Plans is taking this opportunity to share steps aimed at maximizing the health of your hard-working lungs.

Lung Health Checklist

Stay true to this checklist and your lungs should stay true to you.

  • Don't smoke. This one is a no-brainer. Smoking cigarettes is the major cause of lung cancer as well as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. COPD is the third leading cause of death in America. No matter how old you are, or how long you've been smoking, quitting will unquestionable deliver health benefits.
  • Avoid pollutants. Pollutants that can damage your lungs come in numerous forms, including secondhand smoke, outdoor air pollution, residential as well as workplace chemicals, and radon. Radon, which is a naturally occurring radioactive gas, is the number one cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. For starters, make your home and car smoke-free zones. Also have your home tested for radon. Additionally, on poor air quality days, don't exercise outdoors.
  • Monitor indoor air. Air pollution isn't just an outdoor issue, as there are air-pollution culprits aplenty in our home sweet homes, including fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, mold, pet dander, construction materials, and even air fresheners and some candles. The Environmental Protection Agency suggests a three-pronged strategy: eliminate the source polluting indoor air; improve ventilation; and use air cleaners to remove harmful particulate matter.
  • Prevent Infections. Colds and other respiratory infections can pose serious health threats. Protest yourself by: washing hands frequently with soap and water; avoiding crowds during cold and flu season; practicing good oral hygiene by brushing your teeth at least twice daily and seeing the dentist every six months; getting a flu vaccine; asking your physician if he or she recommends a pneumonia vaccine; and staying home when you're sick.
  • Get regular check-ups. Wellness check-ups are key to warding off diseases entirely or at least detecting them as early as possible. This particularly applies to lung disease, which oftentimes goes undiagnosed until it reaches an acute level.
  • Do aerobic exercises. Aerobic exercise is a prime means of improving lung capacity. Adding breathing exercises to your daily workouts also can improve lung function.
  • Don't ignore symptoms. If you've had a cough for more than a month, or if your breathing becomes labored with little or no physical exertion, it's time to see your physician. Other warning signs that shouldn't be ignored are: wheezing; coughing up blood or phlegm for more than a month; and having chest pain lasting a month or longer, particularly if breathing in or coughing increases the pain.

There's no time like the present to give your lungs the gift of a lifetime.

Sources:

https://www.health.harvard.edu/topics/lung-health-and-disease

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/22/healthy-lungs_n_865182.html?slideshow=true#gallery/26053/10

https://www.lung.ca/lung-health/prevent-lung-disease

http://www.lung.org/lung-health-and-diseases/protecting-your-lungs/