Lung health is vital for a person’s overall health, especially now during a pandemic when the virus is trying to attack the lungs. It’s critical to improve and maintain maximum lung health.
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 increase the risk of pneumonia, lung cancer and other potentially fatal lung diseases.
How to Open Up Your Lungs
The best advice for anyone concerned about having healthy lungs is, of course, not to smoke. Here are 10 tips on how to open up your lungs and keep your lungs strong and healthy:
1. Controlled Coughing
It may not sound like it, but coughing is the body’s way of naturally expelling toxins that it has trapped in mucus. Controlled coughing loosens excess mucus in the lungs, sending it up through the airways and eventually out of your body.
Doctors recommend you perform this exercise to help clear your lungs:
– sit down on a chair with the shoulders relaxed, keeping both feet flat on the floor
– fold the arms over the stomach
– slowly inhale through the nose
– slowly exhale while leaning forward, pushing the arms against the stomach
– cough 2 or 3 times while exhaling, keeping the mouth slightly open
– slowly inhale through the nose
– rest and repeat as necessary
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. Brush your teeth twice a day and floss after every meal.
Seems the state of your gums makes a difference when it comes to your lungs. Researchers at the State University of New York in Buffalo found patients with periodontal, or gum, disease were 1 1/2 times more likely to also have COPD. Plus, the worse the gum disease, the worse the lung function, suggesting a direct correlation between the two.
5. Steam therapy.
Steam therapy, or steam inhalation, involves inhaling water vapor to open the airways and help the lungs drain mucus.
People with lung conditions may notice their symptoms worsening in cold or dry air. This climate can dry out the mucous membranes in the airways and restrict blood flow.
RELATED: What Can You do to Manage COPD?
Additionally, steam adds warmth and moisture to the air, which may improve breathing and help loosen mucus inside the airways and lungs. Inhaling water vapor can provide immediate relief and help people breathe more easily.
6. Wear a face mask or even a gas mask when working around toxic dust or fumes.
Occupational exposure is a major hazard to lung health. Even simple household tasks like sanding paint could send damaging fragments into your lungs.
7. Do 10-20 crunches a day.
Your abdominal and chest muscles allow you to suck air in and out. Strengthen them, and if you’re also practicing your deep breathing, you’ll have the breath power of a professional opera singer (or at least close).
8. Take your medicine and listen to your doctor if you have asthma.
There’s some pretty good evidence that people with asthma eventually develop chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, a lung disease that strikes people 65 and older. There’s also evidence that keeping your asthma under control with medication and lifestyle changes can prevent the disease from developing.
9. Get at least seven servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
A 1998 study found that high amounts of antioxidants found in such foods, including vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and beta-carotene, meant better lung function — even in smokers!
10. Laugh More!
Any activity that works the abdominal muscles also works the lungs. Both laughing and singing do just that. Laughing not only increases your lung capacity but also forces stale air out of the lungs so more fresh air can enter. Likewise, singing works the diaphragm muscle, which also helps increase lung capacity.
RELATED: 5 Ways to Keep Your Lungs Healthy
One Last Tip…
Check household cleansers.
Some products, like oven cleaner, can be toxic if inhaled. And if the instructions say to open a window or use it in a well-ventilated space, follow them.
Visit the BlackDoctor.org COPD center for more articles.