Pulmonologist Dr Harish Chafle suggests simple changes you can make in your daily lifestyle in order to breathe easy and keep your lungs healthy.
When you think about your health, how often do you think about your lungs?
Lungs help deliver oxygen to the various cells of your body.
Healthy lungs are important for your overall health as it helps purify toxic gases and keeps you active.
In the last year due to COVID-19, everyone has come to realise the importance of keeping lungs healthy.
While the quintessential oximeter can help you track oxygen saturation, here are some simple tips to protect your lungs from damage and keep them healthy.
1. Spend time outdoors
It may seem difficult to be outdoors due to the pandemic, but whenever you can, try to expose yourself to nature and fresh air.
It is very important for our body to consume natural air and oxygen for good health.
Outdoor air quality is typically better than indoor air quality.
Spending more time outdoors reduces your exposure to indoor air pollutants.
Find a convenient time and place in your daily schedule to do this.
And when you are out, just remember to practice sun safety and protect your skin from UV radiation.
2. Improve indoor air quality
To ensure that you're living in a clean, toxic-free environment you might have to change a few things in your lifestyle.
For example, try to keep your windows open and surround your house with plants.
You may also have to restrict the use of mosquito sprays, air fresheners, dhoop, smoking and also reduce/stop burning wood (if you have a fireplace).
Smoke produced by burning one mosquito coil is equivalent to burning 100 cigarettes. Hence, you must avoid using it indoors.
Also cigarettes smoking should also be avoided at all times as passive smoking is said to be more dangerous than active smoking.
Improving ambient indoor quality can prevent development of many lung disease including COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.
A recent study done in India by Chest Research Foundation showed that incidence of COPD is on the rise in India due to poor quality of ambient air indoors than smoking which is considered as the main cause of COPD.
3. Drink more water
Keeping yourself hydrated is very important thing.
Consumption of proper amount of water can keep you away from lot of diseases.
Staying properly hydrated is important for your overall health, and it also helps promote proper lung function.
Drinking water helps thin the mucus produced by the lungs, which makes it easier to breathe.
This is especially true for people with lung diseases, such as COPD.
Consuming adequate amount of water daily helps keep your kidneys clean.
4. Don't smoke
Smoking causes COPD, lung cancer, and preventable death. Not
Smoking or quitting smoking keeps your lungs healthy and significantly decreases your risk of chronic lung diseases.
If you haven't already, it's never too late to stop smoking.
Giving up tobacco at any age provides health benefits and improves your quality of life.
5. Don't vape
Vaping is not really good thing for your health and can for sure lead you to death if you don't tend to stop it.
There is no safe way to use tobacco; this includes e-cigs and vapes.
While e-cigarettes are often viewed as a safer alternative to smoking, there is growing research associating vaping with lung injury and lung disease.
Tobacco in any form is addictive and it increases your risk for various health problems including heart disease.
Encourage those around you not to smoke when you decide to smoke or vape, those around you no longer have a choice.
Second hand smoke is just is deadly as smoking; it increases a person’s risk for chronic health problems, including COPD and lung cancer.
6. Exercise and stay active
Exercising in daily basis can keep your body system active and healthy.
You need to exercise your muscles to keep them healthy and strong.
Your lungs need stimulation too!
Regular daily activities won't get your lungs working as hard as they should.
Choose physical activity and exercise that gets your heart rate up and makes you breathe deeper.
Physical exercise strengthens your lungs, increases lung capacity, and helps clean your lungs.
Pranayam has helped many patients who had severe form of Covid 19 infection which affected their lungs badly.
7. Try breathing exercises
Breathing is the important aspect of life.
So it's important that every breath you take is towards good health and not towards death.
Breathing exercises can clean your lungs, strengthen, improve lung function and increase lung capacity.
Unlike physical exercise, you can perform breathing exercises at your work desk or during your commute.
8. Avoid respiratory illness
We all know that prevention is better than cure.
A cold or respiratory illness affects lung health immediately, but it can also lead to serious complications.
Here are some things you could do:
- Always wash your hands with soap and water.
- Don't touch your face, especially with unwashed hands.
- Avoid close contact with others when transmission is common in your community.
- Stay home if you are sick, to protect others.
- Get vaccines for respiratory illnesses such as the flu virus and influenza.
9. Ask your doctor about healthy lungs
Regular check-ups with your doctor can keep you stress-free.
It's important that you bring up lung health during your next annual wellness exam.
Mention any breathing problems, and let your doctor know if you currently smoke or vape or if you used to smoke.
Your primary care physician will help you work towards your goal of having healthy lungs.
This may include a referral to a lung specialist, or pulmonologist whenever it is appropriate.
Dr Harish Chafle is senior consultant-pulmonology and critical care at Global Hospitals, Mumbai.