How to Maintain and Improve Your Lung Health
With rising COPD cases and worsening air pollution, here’s how you can protect your lungs from further damage.
Proactively keeping your lungs healthy is crucial, especially in India, as the country is facing increasing levels of air pollution and a growing burden of lung diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer. In fact, India reports one of the highest numbers of COPD cases in the world, and that number has risen from around 28 million in the 1990s to 55 million in 2016. But, there are various ways to protect your lungs and keep them healthy.
The first step is to limit exposure to air pollution. Globally, cities in India report some of the highest AQI levels, which can cause respiratory irritation, inflammation, and damage to the lung tissue. Long-term exposure to air pollution can increase the risk of developing lung cancer, COPD, and other lung diseases. To reduce your exposure to air pollution, monitor the AQI level on a daily basis and stay indoors when the quality is poor—limit your time outside on these days, and don’t do strenuous physical activity outdoors. If possible, use an air purifier at home to keep you and your family further protected.
Another vital step in keeping your lungs healthy is to quit smoking. Smoking is the leading cause of COPD and is also a major risk factor for lung cancer and other lung diseases. Nicotine and other toxic substances present in cigarettes can cause damage to the lung tissue and increase the risk of chronic bronchitis and emphysema. The smoke can trigger and exacerbate COPD symptoms, even for people who are nearby.
Quitting smoking can be difficult, but there are many resources available to help, including nicotine replacement therapy, counselling, and support groups. Doing so can help slow the progression of COPD and prevent further lung damage.
In addition to avoiding exposure to air pollution and quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy lifestyle keeps the lungs functioning optimally. This includes eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight. A balanced and healthy diet should typically include fruits, vegetables, protein and whole grains, and should be low in saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, salt, and added sugars. Obesity is a risk factor for many chronic diseases, including COPD. Regular exercise can help to improve lung function and to maintain a healthy weight. Speak to your healthcare provider to understand what lifestyle changes would help you on your unique health journey.
It is also important to get enough sleep, as lack of sleep can lead to inflammation and a weakened immune system, which can make you more susceptible to lung infections and diseases. Aim to get 7-9 hours of sleep each night, and try to establish a regular sleep schedule.
Regular check-ups with your healthcare provider can help to identify any early warning signs of a problem, such as shortness of breath or a persistent cough, and to detect any signs of lung damage. A lung function test, such as spirometry, can measure how well the lungs are working and can help to diagnose COPD. A chest X-ray or CT scan may also be performed to evaluate the lungs and detect any signs of lung damage.
With these preventive measures, you can greatly reduce your risk of developing serious and debilitating lung conditions and improve the quality of your life.
At Seva At Home, we produce a wealth of free health information to help individuals and families live healthier, happier lives. This has been produced by independent research carried out by the Seva At Home team. This information is not a replacement for medical advice. Please consult your physician for relevant medical diagnosis and advice.