Breathe Easy: Looking After Your Lungs

By staff

Your lungs are one of your body’s major organs, it is the operator behind breathing. The lungs and respiratory system allow air from the atmosphere to pass oxygen into the bloodstream, it then circulates to the rest of the body. The lungs also play a key role in protecting our body from harmful substances by coughing, sneezing, filtering or swallowing these pathogens. As you can imagine it is crucial to make sure our lungs are working at their best.

When looking after our lungs it is also good to know what may damage them. The main triggers include;
- Smoking – this is a big trigger, as toxic chemicals in cigarettes can cause lung damage by inflaming the tissue and destroying the elasticity and structure of the lungs, and air passages. Smoking also damages the cilia, which is responsible for clearing mucus, the result of this mucus build-up can leave us susceptible to infections.

- Pollutions such as mould, dust, artificial air fresheners and other air pollutants and chemicals can also cause inflammation to the lungs, which eventually result in lung damage.

- Reoccurrence of respiratory infections such as asthma, common cold or flu, COPD and bronchiectasis, pneumonia can lead to narrowing or blockage of the airways.

So what is the best way to look after our lungs?

Drinking lots and lots of water! Your lungs need it as much as your body does. By staying hydrated it helps thin the lining of mucus which present in the lungs. By thinning the mucus lining it may help reduce the risk of lung infections.

This can help also be supported by looking after our immune system. By reducing the frequency of getting a cold our lungs will work at the best of their ability. Eating a well balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables will mean we are getting all the antioxidants we need to keep away those nasty pathogens. Dietary sources of vitamin C and zinc are great nutrients to think about when trying to assist our immune system function, as they boost our white blood cells. Practising good hygiene like washing hands regularly and using hand sanitiser if you are unable to, covering your mouth when you cough, keeping a clean work space will also help reduce the risk of catching a cold.

Exercise is also essential to our health especially when trying to look after our lungs, as it helps us maintain a healthy weight range meaning we aren’t putting any extra stress on our vital organs. Exercising with a regular schedule will also teach us how to breath properly and pumps extra oxygen into the body. Deep breathing and diaphragmatic breathing allow the lungs to inflate and deflate, helping to increase our lung capacity. Great exercises that really focus on breathing and our lungs is yoga, Pilates and swimming.

Last of all, you should try to improve the air quality around you. This can be from quitting smoking to making sure we move away from people that do smoke. Also removing artificial air fresheners and keeping a clean home away from mould, dust and any allergens that we may be susceptible to will keep our lungs working at the best of their ability.

Adding greenery to the home can improve oxygen and air quality as plants have the natural ability to remove toxins from the air.

While keeping all these things in mind it is important to see a doctor if you suffer;
- Shortness of breath during simple activities
- Pain when breathing
- Dizziness
- Persistent cough
- Wheezing with exercise
- Cough associated with exercising
- Pain in the airway

This information does not take into account your personal situation and is general in nature. You should consider whether the information is appropriate for your needs and seek professional medical advice.

Always consult your healthcare professional before taking any supplements or if any concerns arise.