The truth is that your lungs, just like your heart, joints, and other parts of your body, age with time. They can become less flexible and lose their strength, which can make it more difficult to breathe. But by adopting certain healthy habits, you can better maintain the health of your lungs, and keep them working optimally even into your senior years.
Sometimes we take our lungs for granted. They keep us alive and well and for the most part, we don’t need to think about them. That’s why it is important to prioritize your lung health.
Your body has a natural defense system designed to protect the lungs, keeping dirt and germs at bay. But there are some important things you can do to reduce your risk of lung disease. Here are some ways to keep your lungs healthy.
Cigarette smoking is the major cause of lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Cigarette smoke can narrow the air passages and make breathing more difficult. It causes chronic inflammation, or swelling in the lung, which can lead to chronic bronchitis. Over time cigarette smoke destroys lung tissue and may trigger changes that grow into cancer. If you smoke, it’s never too late to benefit from quitting.
A cold or other respiratory infection can sometimes become very serious. There are several things you can do to protect yourself:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. Alcohol-based cleaners are a good substitute if you cannot wash.
- Avoids crowds during the cold and flu season.
Good oral hygiene can protect you from the germs in your mouth leading to infections. Brush your teeth at least twice daily and see your dentist at least every six months.
Exposure to pollutants in the air can damage your lungs and accelerate aging. When they’re young and strong, your lungs can simply resist these toxins. As you get older, though, they lose some of that resistance and become more vulnerable to infections and disease.
Give your lungs a break. Reduce your exposure as much as you can:
- Avoid second hand smoke, and try not to go outside during peak air pollution times.
- Avoid exercising near heavy traffic, as you can inhale the exhaust.
- If you’re exposed to pollutants at work, be sure to take all possible safety precautions. Certain jobs in construction, mining, and waste management can increase risk of exposure to airborne pollutants.
Infections can be particularly dangerous for your lungs, especially as you age. Those who already have lung diseases like COPD are particularly at risk for infections. Even healthy seniors, though, can simply develop pneumonia if they’re not careful.
Regular check-ups help prevent diseases, even when you are feeling well. This is especially true for lung disease, which sometimes goes undetected until it is serious. During a check-up, your healthcare provider will listen to your breathing and listen to your concerns.Leave a reply