Love Your Lungs – Breathe Easier

What’s something you do every day, subconsciously, that’s absolutely essential to life?  The answer is…Breathing! From the moment you were born into this world, your lungs have been working to help you breathe. Every cell in your body needs oxygen to live. 

 

October is Healthy Lung Month! Our lungs are vital and crucial to our health. Without healthy lungs, our quality of life is adversely impacted. We need to be more conscientious about our lung health, especially during the current COVID-19 pandemic. The American Lung Association is devoted to bringing awareness to lung health across the globe, and educating the public about the importance of protecting their lungs against lung disease. 

 

The lungs are part of the respiratory system that helps us to breathe in essential oxygen and it also removes waste gases such as carbon dioxide from the body. In this way, the lungs help the body perform an exchange. Your lungs contain millions of air sacs called alveoli where the exchange of gasses takes place between your bloodstream and airways.

 

How do we make our lungs stay healthy? Here’s some information on how lungs work and some fun facts about your lungs function.  

  • Did you know? The lungs contain no muscles.
  • There is a strong wall of muscle between your chest and abdominal cavities called a diaphragm, that draws in air and contracts to expel air.
  • Your ribcage (bones that support and protect your chest cavity) move slightly to help your lungs expand and contract.
  • The average maximum lung capacity is about 6 litres of air—imagine three large 2 litre soda bottles!

 

Your lungs start to decline once you become older. However, changes aren’t really noticeable until ages 50 to 60. Why does this happen?  Your lung tissue, muscles, and bones are all impacted by the ageing process. That's why you might inexplicably feel tired, and experience a shortness of breath. 

 

Show some love to your lungs and keep them healthy. Here’s a few things to keep in mind!  

  • DON’T smoke. Simply put, smoking damages the lungs. 
  • DO stay clear of air pollution. This includes second-hand smoke, air pollution outdoors, chemicals in your home.
  • DO stay active. Regular exercise can help keep your chest muscles strong, supporting your lung functions. 
  • DO watch your weight. Belly fat interferes with your diaphragm’s ability to fully expand your lungs.
  • DO get up and about. Prolonged periods of lying in bed allow mucus and fluid to settle in your lungs, which can impede lung capacity.
  • DO take measures to prevent infection. Wash your hands with soap and water often. Schedule regular check-ups with your doctor, get your annual flu shot, and ask your doctor if you’re a candidate for the pneumonia vaccine.

 

The ageing process affects our lungs slowly and gradually over time. If you ever notice sudden changes in your ability to physically keep up with peers your age, do schedule an appointment and talk to your doctor. Most importantly - if you notice abrupt changes in your breathing, or if you can’t shake a cough, urgently seek medical attention.

Don’t take your lungs for granted. 

 

Love Your Lungs – Breathe Easier


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