Respiratory problems such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema and bronchitis affect millions of Americans. Poorly functioning lungs decrease oxygen flow to the rest of your body and compromise stamina, as well as increasing the risk of pneumonia and other potentially fatal lung diseases.
The best advice for anyone concerned about having healthy lungs is, of course, not to smoke. Here’s also 10 more tips to help keep your lungs strong and healthy:
1. Do you snore? If the answer is yes, make an appointment with a sleep specialist and get checked for sleep apnea. The condition, in which you stop breathing dozens or even hundreds of times during the night, can actually damage your lungs nearly as much as smoking. Fortunately, it’s treatable.
2. Take a fish-oil supplement every day. Most airway problems, including asthma, are related to inflammation. Omega-3 fatty acids, which are the main ingredient in fish-oil supplements, reduce inflammation.
3. Breathe from your belly for at least five minutes every day. This kind of breathing, called diaphragmatic breathing, involves training and strengthening your diaphragm so it requires less effort to take in each breath. To do it, inhale deeply through your nose, filling your lungs from the bottom up. If you’re doing it right, your stomach will pooch out. Exhale and repeat.
4. Check household cleansers. Some products, like oven cleaner, can be toxic if inhaled. And if the instructions say to open a window or use in a well-ventilated space, follow them.