As we age, our bodies go through many changes. One of them is lung changes. After about the age of 35, it is normal for your lung function to decline gradually as you age. That is why it is important to care for our lungs. After all, thanks to our lungs we can breathe! In this blog, we will be discussing some simple steps you can take (at any age) to get your lungs in the best shape possible and help them age healthier.
Keeping Our Lungs Healthy
By taking care of your lungs, you are ensuring that they will function at their best for as long as possible. Let us take a look at some steps that we can take to keep our lungs healthy.
1. Don’t smoke
Making the decision to quit smoking is one of the best things you can do for your lungs. Cigarette smoking causes more cases of lung cancer than any other risk factor (1). Ten years after you quit smoking, your risk for dying from lung cancer drops by half (1).
Smoking also increases your risk for other types of cancer, heart disease, stroke, and chronic lung diseases such as COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease). If you currently smoke cigarettes, now is the time to quit. There are many resources available to help you quit smoking for good.
The American Lung Association’s Freedom From Smoking program is one option that can help you quit smoking. This program offers group support, quitting tips, and a step-by-step plan for quitting smoking.
You can also speak with your doctor about medications that can help you quit. Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is one type of medication that can be used to help you quit smoking. You can also switch to vapes or e-cigarettes to get your nicotine fix.
2. Avoid air pollution when possible
Air pollution has become more and more of a problem in recent years. Air pollution can cause lung cancer, COPD, and other respiratory problems.
You can avoid air pollution by staying inside when the air quality is poor. You can also wear a mask when you are outside to protect your lungs from the harmful particles in the air.
If you live in an area with high levels of air pollution, you may want to consider moving to a cleaner location. You can also help reduce air pollution by driving less, using public transportation, or carpooling.
Air pollution includes both indoor and outdoor pollution that consists of secondhand smoke and outdoor air pollution from transportation or climate change. Avoid chemicals in your home and workplace including fragrances. These can all cause or worsen lung disease (2).
Practicing physical activity can help keep chest muscles strong (3). Being active helps by strengthening bones which become weaker as we age, and reduces weight gain which plays a big role in lung health.
By exercising regularly, you are also less likely to develop chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, which can all lead to lung problems. Start with simple exercises like walking or swimming and gradually increase the intensity over time. Remember to check with your doctor before starting any new exercise routine. This way, you won’t put your health at risk and you can maximize the benefits of exercise for healthy lung aging.
4. Watch your weight
Abdominal fat can hold back the diaphragm’s ability to expand the lungs (3). To help avoid this, you should eat healthily and exercise. Researchers have linked weight gain to a decline in aging lungs (4).
Try to maintain a healthy weight by eating balanced meals and exercising regularly. This will help keep your lungs healthy and functioning at their best. Plus, exercising regularly will help eliminate the risks of obesity and other chronic diseases.
5. Get up and move more
Lying down in bed for too long allows mucus and fluid to settle in your lungs – affecting your lung capacity (3). Try your best to take walking breaks or sit up instead of laying down. This will help your lungs do their job easier and keep all the bad things out.
If you have an aging parent, try encouraging them to participate in activities where they need to move around and stand up (if they can). That is why at our Eden facilities, you will notice our activities are designed to promote health and wellness in our residents. We understand the importance of movement and engaging activities and our team works hard to keep our residents active as much as possible for a happy, healthy mind and body.
6. Schedule regular check-ups
Even if you feel healthy, it is still important to check in with your doctor from time to time. Unfortunately, lung disease can be undetected until it becomes serious. However, there are some signs of lung disease you should keep an eye out for. This includes trouble breathing, shortness of breath, feeling like you’re not getting enough air, decreased ability to exercise, a cough that won’t go away, coughing up blood or music, pain or discomfort when breathing in or out (5).
If you or a loved one experiences any of those symptoms, you should schedule an appointment to chat with your physician. This way, you can get a diagnosis and start treatment if necessary.
It’s important to not ignore these symptoms to prevent lung disease from progressing and becoming more difficult to treat. If you think you might have a problem, get it checked out as soon as possible.
7. Get your flu shot
Pneumonia can be prevented by getting vaccinated annually. Getting the flu shot will help decrease your chances of getting pneumonia since flu is the common cause (6). Pneumonia is a very serious lung infection that can lead to hospitalization and even death in some cases. The symptoms of pneumonia can be similar to the flu, so it’s important to get vaccinated to protect yourself.
Why Our Lungs Are Important
Our lungs are important because they help us breathe. They remove carbon dioxide from our bodies and replace it with oxygen. The lungs are also responsible for helping to fight infection. Without healthy lungs, we wouldn’t be able to live a long, healthy life.
Benefits of Having Healthy Lungs
Having healthy lungs means that you’re able to breathe easier and have more energy. Your lungs are also less likely to be infected, which can lead to serious health problems. Taking care of your lungs now will help ensure that they stay healthy as you age.
By following the seven tips above, you can keep your lungs healthy and prevent lung disease. If you think you might have a problem, be sure to see your doctor as soon as possible. This way, you can address the problem and get back to enjoying your life.
If you or a loved one is in need of pulmonary or respiratory care services, please contact one of our Eden Senior Care skilled nursing facilities near you.
By following the seven steps above in your daily routine, you can help keep your lungs working for life! Whatever your lung condition may be, at Eden Senior Care, our team of professionals work hard daily to help residents dealing with pulmonary and respiratory illnesses. Our goal is the same as yours, to get you back on your feet, back to being you.