Having good lung health is essential for overall wellbeing. Your lungs play a vital role in helping you breathe – supplying oxygen to provide energy to your cells and expelling carbon dioxide to remove waste products. Understanding what can harm and improve your lungs can help you make informed decisions and take better care of your lungs.
Various factors can lead to lung damage with smoking at the top of the list. Smoking kills the cells lining your alveoli (tiny air sacs in your lungs) that pull oxygen from the air you breathe and release carbon dioxide when you exhale. As these cells become more damaged, the lungs become fibrous, making it difficult for them to fully expand when inhaling.
Reduced lung function and chronic inflammation from smoking can lead to an increased risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and lung cancer. According to the American Lung Association, 85 to 90 percent of all COPD cases and about 80 percent of lung cancer deaths are thought to result from smoking.
Other factors that can negatively affect your lung health include:
- Secondhand smoke
- Air pollution
- Exposure to chemicals, fumes and dust
- Respiratory infections left untreated
- Not managing chronic lung conditions or diseases
While many other parts of your body can heal themselves, lung tissue and cells cannot. There is no medical procedure or medication to reverse this loss.
The good news is that you can start making changes today to help your lungs stay healthy:
- Quit smoking (tobacco, vaping, marijuana use, etc.).
- Avoid secondhand smoke.
- Limit time spent in areas with poor air quality.
- Wear occupational PPE for jobs that are exposed to chemicals and fumes.
- Take precautions to avoid those who are sick.
- Stay up to date with your vaccines.
- Follow treatment plans for chronic lung conditions and diseases.
- Get low-dose CT lung screening.
- Exercise regularly to help improve lung capacity and promote overall respiratory health.
At Edward-Elmhurst Health, our skilled pulmonary team delivers expert care for lung and respiratory conditions so you can breathe easier and live better. We offer a variety of services, from pulmonary function testing and bronchoscopy, to diagnosing and treating pulmonary issues. To learn more about lung health and care, visit us online or call 630-355-8776.