How to take good care of your lungs

Having healthy lungs is vital to your overall health. If you are not getting enough oxygen as a result of some kind of lung disorder then every area of your body suffers. Receiving an adequate amount of oxygen is necessary for your body to function properly. There are some lung disorders which are temporary and go away with time or with a course of antibiotics but there are also much more serious problems which can occur, making it difficult to function in every day life without medical assistance such as an oxygen tank or inhaler.

For this reason it is important never to take lung problems for granted. If you are having trouble breathing or exhibiting other symptoms which could point to a lung disorder then it is imperative that you seek medical attention to find out if your lungs are operating correctly. There are also some signs and symptoms that you can watch for at home in order to determine if your lungs are ok.

Monitor Your Breathing

It is important to realize that breathing should never be something that is forced or labored. It should come naturally and be done with ease. If it does not then that is a very good indication that something is not right. If you find that your breathing is painful in any way or that you are experiencing difficulty in taking in a sufficient amount of air or if you find that you run out of breath easily, there may be a problem that will require diagnostic testing and treatment. Obviously, if you are suffering from a chest cold or have just recently been sick with a condition such as bronchitis or pneumonia then it may take a little while for your lungs to fully heal. However, if any of the above mentioned problems should last more than 7 to 10 days then having a full check up of your respiratory system would be a very good idea.

Be Aware of Coughing

Coughing can be a perfectly normal sign of a minor illness such as a cold or even of an allergy of some sort but persistent coughing that lasts for more than a week or so could be cause for alarm. In addition, it is important to note what comes up when coughing or whether or not the cough seems to be more of a dry/hacking variety. It is never a good sign for you to cough up any blood, no matter how little or how much. Excessive mucus is also an indication that an infection is present as it is the bodies way of defending itself against “imposters”. The presence of thick and foul tasting mucus or blood is a major red flag and should be seen to right away. Remember that mucus may be present in mild conditions such as a cold or flu but that it should never last more than a couple of weeks.

Chest Pains

If you have a serious lung problem, one of the main warning signs will be pain in your chest, either when inhaling or coughing. Anytime you have a chest cold or lung infection you will experience chest discomfort but this pain should not be severe and it certainly should not last for an extended period of time. Persistent pain, especially when accompanied by the presence of blood or mucus is a warning sign that your lungs are definitely not okay. In some cases heavy coughing can result in tearing of the lining in the lungs, this can be a very serious condition and will require medical care. It is important to note that there is a distinct difference in the type of chest pains a person with a lung disorder will experience in contrast to those that are associated with heart conditions. The difference seems to be in the fact that chest pains which are a symptom of a lung disorder will occur upon taking a deep breath or coughing.

Assess Your Habits and Family History

If you practice unhealthy habits such as smoking cigarettes, using excessive alcohol or illegal drugs then you may have a heightened risk of chronic lung problems such as emphysema, lung cancer, COPD and many other illnesses. In addition, if you have a history of any of these problems in your family you may also be considered at a greater risk for the occurrence of one or all of them. People who have a history of cancer in their family should begin early screening to be sure there is no sign of precancerous cells or other suspicious findings. Most doctors suggest screening begin at about 35 years old for smokers or people with a family history of lung cancer. It is also the best choice to quit smoking but that is for another discussion.

Diagnostic Testing

If you determine that you are experiencing any of the above mentioned symptoms of lung distress then you will want to go to the doctor to have a battery of tests performed. The first thing that may be done during the process of triage will be to have a blood oxygen level test done. A probe is placed on the tip of your finger and the amount of oxygen you are breathing in is measured. Ideally, the result should be above 95% and anything under 90% is cause for concern. Additional testing such as x-rays or CT scans may also be done to rule out any masses such as those found in cancer or pneumonia. Once these tests are performed there may also be blood work that the doctor will order to determine your blood count to see if there is any evidence of infection.

Most lung conditions if caught and treated early enough can be arrested and managed with proper care and treatment. There are some conditions which offer a much bleaker prognosis, especially if left untreated for an extended period of time. For this reason it is important to have anything that seems unusual checked out as soon as symptoms present themselves.

Lung Health & Diseases

Your lungs are part of the respiratory system, a group of organs and tissues that work together to help you breathe. The respiratory system’s main job is to move fresh air into your body while removing waste gases.

Why are lungs important?

Every cell in your body needs oxygen in order to live. The air we breathe contains oxygen and other gases. Once in the lungs, oxygen is moved into the bloodstream and carried through your body. At each cell in your body, oxygen is exchanged for a waste gas called carbon dioxide. Your bloodstream then carries this waste gas back to the lungs where it is removed from the bloodstream and then exhaled. Your lungs and respiratory system automatically perform this vital process, called gas exchange.

In addition to gas exchange, your respiratory system performs other roles important to breathing. These include:

  • Bringing air to the proper body temperature and moisturizing it to the right humidity level.
  • Protecting your body from harmful substances. This is done by coughing, sneezing, filtering or swallowing them.
  • Supporting your sense of smell.

The Parts of the Respiratory System and How They Work

Airways

  • SINUSES are hollow spaces in the bones of your head above and below your eyes that are connected to your nose by small openings. Sinuses help regulate the temperature and humidity of inhaled air.
  • The NOSE is the preferred entrance for outside air into the respiratory system. The hairs lining the nose’s wall are part of the air-cleaning system.
  • Air also enters through the MOUTH, especially for those who have a mouth-breathing habit, whose nasal passages may be temporarily blocked by a cold, or during heavy exercise.
  • The THROAT collects incoming air from your nose and mouth then passes it down to the windpipe (trachea).
  • The WINDPIPE (trachea) is the passage leading from your throat to your lungs.
  • The windpipe divides into the two main BRONCHIAL TUBES, one for each lung, which divides again into each lobe of your lungs. These, in turn, split further into bronchioles.

Lungs and Blood Vessels

  • Your right lung is divided into three LOBES, or sections. Each lobe is like a balloon filled with sponge-like tissue. Air moves in and out through one opening—a branch of the bronchial tube.
  • Your left lung is divided into two LOBES.
  • The PLEURA are the two membranes, actually, one continuous one folded on itself, that surround each lobe of the lungs and separate your lungs from your chest wall.
  • Your bronchial tubes are lined with CILIA (like very small hairs) that move like waves. This motion carries MUCUS (sticky phlegm or liquid) upward and out into your throat, where it is either coughed up or swallowed. Mucus catches and holds much of the dust, germs, and other unwanted matter that has invaded your lungs. You get rid of this matter when you cough, sneeze, clear your throat or swallow.
  • The smallest branches of the bronchial tubes are called BRONCHIOLES, at the end of which are the air sacs or alveoli.
  • ALVEOLI are the very small air sacs where the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide takes place.
  • CAPILLARIES are blood vessels in the walls of the alveoli. Blood passes through the capillaries, entering through your PULMONARY ARTERY and leaving via your PULMONARY VEIN. While in the capillaries, blood gives off carbon dioxide through the capillary wall into the alveoli and takes up oxygen from air in the alveoli.

Muscles and Bones

  • Your DIAPHRAGM is the strong wall of muscle that separates your chest cavity from the abdominal cavity. By moving downward, it creates suction in the chest, drawing in air and expanding the lungs.
  • RIBS are bones that support and protect your chest cavity. They move slightly to help your lungs expand and contract.

Keeping Lungs Healthy

Lung capacity declines as you age. Keep your lungs healthy by taking good care of yourself every day. Eat a balanced diet, exercise and reduce stress to breathe easier. Get more tips for healthy lungs »

How to take good care of your lungs

When it comes to staying healthy, one of the best things you can do for your body is to keep your respiratory system functioning at one hundred percent efficiency. This is because the respiratory system is one of the most critical parts of your body. A healthy respiratory system is crucial for day-to-day exercise, comfort, and general wellness. Conversely, an unhealthy respiratory system can be both a cause and a sign of bad general health. Luckily, keeping your respiratory system healthy is easier than you might think—as long as you follow these simple steps.

Daily Exercise to Improve Cardiovascular Health

Spending even a few minutes a day walking or running can help give you stronger, healthier, more powerful lungs. This means that your lungs will not only be taking in more air, but they will be more prepared to deal with stress from particulates or other lung damaging pollutants. However, the benefits of walking and running go far beyond just your lungs. This type of exercise strengthens your cardiovascular system, and truly your entire body.

Avoid Smoking

This may seem obvious to some, but one of the worst things you can do for your lungs is to smoke. Smoking fills your lungs with pollutants that weaken them and make it harder to breathe, as well as carcinogens, which can cause cancer. Additionally, smoking can cause emphysema, in which your lungs lose their elasticity. This can make it extremely difficult to breathe.

Eat a Healthy and Balanced Diet

Although this is not directly related to your respiratory system, it is one of the most important ways to keep it healthy. This is because being badly nourished or overweight cause a number of other health problems which make it more difficult to exercise, and can make you more susceptible to some diseases. Eating meals that are rich in nutrients and diverse in terms of what they contain is the key to staying healthy and keeping a strong respiratory system.

Avoid Lung Dangers Such as Mold

Other respiratory problems stem from dangerous pollutants like mold. Living in close proximity to mold in your home of place of business can cause serious health problems such as infections in the throat, nose, and lungs, coughing and wheezing, asthma, trouble breathing, bleeding of the lungs or nose, and even, in some cases, cancer. Some molds are known to be highly carcinogenic. For this reason, it is important to make sure you are not living somewhere with dangerous amounts of mold.

Learn Deep Breathing Techniques

One more way to keep your respiratory system healthy is to practice deep breathing techniques, in which you utilize your lungs to their fullest extent and practice breathing in a healthy posture. This can help your lungs get stronger, and can help you understand how your body works more fully. It can also simply be a fun and relaxing way to unwind.

More Articles

  1. How the Heart & Lungs Work During Exercise
  2. What Happens to the Intercostal Muscles in Exercise?
  3. What Causes Scarring of the Lungs?
  4. Long-Term Effects of Exercise on the Respiratory System
  5. What Is Basilar Consolidation?

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  • Physical Characteristics
  • Oxygen Delivery
  • Acid-Base Balance

Healthy lungs deliver oxygen to and remove carbon dioxide from the body. Unlike other internal organs, healthy lungs are routinely and directly touched by the outside environment through the air breathed in. The delicate tissues of the lungs must defend against germs, tobacco smoke and harmful air pollutants that can damage airways and inhibit lung function.

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Physical Characteristics

Each healthy lung is 10 to 12 inches long and appears pink and sponge-like. To make room for the heart between the two lungs inside the chest cavity, the left lung is slightly smaller than the right lung and has two lobes instead of the three lobes on the right lung. The rib cage, made up of 12 sets of ribs, protects the lungs. Located beneath the lungs, the diaphragm muscle helps the lungs inhale and exhale air.

Each breath enters the nose or mouth and down the trachea or windpipe into two large airways called bronchi that lead to the right and left lungs. After entering the lungs, air progresses through 22 smaller tubes to reach the 100,000 very smallest tubes called bronchioles. From there, air travels to the 1,000,000 alveoli or tiny air sacs that resemble clusters of grapes

  • Each healthy lung is 10 to 12 inches long and appears pink and sponge-like.
  • After entering the lungs, air progresses through 22 smaller tubes to reach the 100,000 very smallest tubes called bronchioles.

Oxygen Delivery

How the Heart & Lungs Work During Exercise

Healthy lungs breathe 12 to 18 times per minute or 20,000 times per day, according to the American Association of Respiratory Care, helping to keep the body working normally 1. Each breath brings in about a pint of air and adds oxygen to the blood which then carries it to every cell in the body. Oxygen helps cells function, participates in many chemical reactions and helps repair injured tissues.

The maximum amount of air a person can inhale and exhale in one breath, called vital capacity, relates to life expectancy. Smoking, air pollution, exercise, obesity, posture and shallow breathing can affect vital capacity and the amount of air delivered to the body.

  • Healthy lungs breathe 12 to 18 times per minute or 20,000 times per day, according to the American Association of Respiratory Care, helping to keep the body working normally 1.
  • Smoking, air pollution, exercise, obesity, posture and shallow breathing can affect vital capacity and the amount of air delivered to the body.

Acid-Base Balance

To avoid life-threatening consequences, the body must keep the blood and other fluids within a narrow range of acidity. Healthy lungs play an essential role in maintaining this balance by regulating how much carbon dioxide is breathed out according to Eleanor Whitney and Sharon Rolfes in the text “Understanding Nutrition.” Breathing speeds up when too much carbon dioxide causes the fluids to become too acid and slows down when the fluids become too basic 2.

This article was co-authored by Ni-Cheng Liang, MD. Dr. Ni-Cheng Liang is a board certified Pulmonologist and the Director of Pulmonary Integrative Medicine at Coastal Pulmonary Associates affiliated with the Scripps Health Network in San Diego, California. She also serves as a Voluntary Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine while volunteering for the UCSD Medical Student-Run Free Clinic for uninsured patients. With over 15 years of experience, Dr. Liang specializes in pulmonary and respiratory medical concerns, mindfulness teaching, physician wellness, and integrative medicine. Dr. Liang received her Doctor of Medicine (MD) from the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Dr. Liang was voted as a San Diego Top Doctor in 2017 and 2019. She was also awarded the 2019 American Lung Association San Diego Lung Health Provider of the Year.

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You take over six million breaths every year. [1] X Trustworthy Source American Lung Association Nonprofit health organization dedicated to improving lung health through education, advocacy, and research Go to source Each one of those breaths is essential to providing your body with the oxygen that keeps every single one of your cells alive. By knowing the common harmful substances many people breathe on a daily basis, as well as the activities that promote lung health, you can start taking better care of your lungs today!

Lung Health & Diseases

Sometimes we take our lungs for granted. They keep us alive and well and for the most part, we don’t need to think about them. That’s why it is important to prioritize your lung health.

Your body has a natural defense system designed to protect the lungs, keeping dirt and germs at bay. But there are some important things you can do to reduce your risk of lung disease. Here are some ways to keep your lungs healthy.

Don’t Smoke

Cigarette smoking is the major cause of lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Cigarette smoke can narrow the air passages and make breathing more difficult. It causes chronic inflammation, or swelling in the lung, which can lead to chronic bronchitis. Over time cigarette smoke destroys lung tissue and may trigger changes that grow into cancer. If you smoke, it’s never too late to benefit from quitting. The American Lung Association can help whenever you are ready.

Avoid Exposure to Indoor Pollutants That Can Damage Your Lungs

Secondhand smoke, chemicals in the home and workplace, and radon all can cause or worsen lung disease. Make your home and car smokefree. Test your home for radon. Avoid exercising outdoors on bad air days. And talk to your healthcare provider if you are worried that something in your home, school or work may be making you sick.

Minimize Exposure to Outdoor Air Pollution

The air quality outside can vary from day to day and sometimes is unhealthy to breathe. Knowing how outdoor air pollution affects your health and useful strategies to minimize prolonged exposure can help keep you and your family well. Climate change and natural disasters can also directly impact lung health.

Prevent Infection

A cold or other respiratory infection can sometimes become very serious. There are several things you can do to protect yourself:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. Alcohol-based cleaners are a good substitute if you cannot wash.
  • Avoids crowds during the cold and flu season.
  • Good oral hygiene can protect you from the germs in your mouth leading to infections. Brush your teeth at least twice daily and see your dentist at least every six months.
  • Get vaccinated every year against influenza. Talk to your healthcare provider to find out if the pneumonia vaccine is right for you.
  • If you get sick, keep it to yourself! Protect the people around you, including your loved ones, by keeping your distance. Stay home from work or school until you’re feeling better.

Get Regular Check-ups

Regular check-ups help prevent diseases, even when you are feeling well. This is especially true for lung disease, which sometimes goes undetected until it is serious. During a check-up, your healthcare provider will listen to your breathing and listen to your concerns. If you need health insurance, learn more about your options.

Exercise

Whether you are young or old, slender or large, able-bodied or living with a chronic illness or disability, being physically active can help keep your lungs healthy. Learn more about how exercise can strengthen your lungs.

Public Health and Your Lungs

Health begins where we live, learn, work and play, and it’s important to ensure that safeguards are in place to protect us and prevent disease.

No description provided.

If someone said the words “healthy living” to you right now, what would you think of?

Most of us would probably immediately think about our diets and how they affect our weight, our heart’s health or risk of developing diabetes. We might also think about how exercising keeps our waistlines thin and our hearts strong and healthy. But how soon would you think about tips for a healthy respiratory system?

How to take good care of your lungsNo one can deny just how vital this organ system really is. Composed of our airways, lungs, and the muscles and blood vessels connected to them, the respiratory system carries oxygen throughout our body and makes everything we do possible. So when something goes wrong with our respiratory systems, our entire body suffers because of it.

Fortunately, there’s a lot that we can do to keep this vital organ system healthy:

1. Add some greenery to your home. And not fake greenery – real plants. Adding plants to our homes increases the oxygen and air quality in our living areas thanks to plants’ natural abilities to remove certain toxins from the air. This is especially important during the winter months, when we spend most of our time indoors because of the weather outside.

2. Get fit and stay active. Yep, exercise is good for your lungs, too! Exercise improves circulation and strengthens our muscles – two important things that healthy lungs need to do their job. That’s why exercising helps make them more efficient.

3. Eat well. A healthy diet is as good for your lungs as it is for any other part of your body. In fact, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, low levels of certain nutrients have been linked to a number of lung diseases. Eating foods rich in vitamins A,C and E and the minerals zinc, potassium, selenium, and magnesium will all help keep your respiratory health nice and high.

4. Drink lots of water. You’ve heard this before, too: drink lots of water to keep yourself healthy. Staying hydrated plays a role in your lung’s health as well: drinking water helps to thin the mucus secretions that naturally accumulate in your lungs each day, which then allows you to breathe more easily.

5. Wash your hands. It sounds simple and silly, but washing your hands (actually washing, not just rinsing!) and practicing good hygiene in general is very good for your lungs, especially during flu season. Doing this will help keep germs, viruses and bacteria that can severely hurt your lungs – including the ones that cause colds, the flu and pneumonia – from getting into your body. And to efficiently keep those harmful microbes from making their way into your respiratory system, be sure to sanitize your cell phones and telephone headsets as well!

6. Don’t smoke or use tobacco products. You’ve heard it a million times before: smoking, chewing tobacco and similar products are not good for your lungs, or your health overall. There’s a reason every health professional and organization says this over and over again: avoiding or quitting a smoking habit is the #1 most effective way to keep your respiratory system strong and healthy .

Our Genesis Medical staff completely understands just how hard it can be to kick a smoking or tobacco habit once you’ve started, though – and that’s why we’re here to help. You’re always welcome to work with your doctor on developing a plan to help you quit smoking. WedMD , the CDC , Quit Solutions and many other websites can also help you with tips on how to ditch this unhealthy habit.

Even if you don’t smoke, it’s still important to take care of your lungs; problems with the lungs can affect anyone and are one of the most common health issues in the world. Never hesitate to ask our doctors about specific exercise routines, supplements, or other things that can help keep your lungs strong and healthy. And most importantly: if you experience persistent coughing, shortness of breath, fatigue, or other lung and breathing related issues , we encourage you to call our offices so we can take a look at you and make sure nothing serious is developing. When it comes to our lungs, taking care of yourself and having a potential issue looked at sooner rather than later is always the best thing you can do!

by Wendy Henderson | January 15, 2018

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How to take good care of your lungs

We tend to take our lungs for granted, that is until we develop breathing difficulties. But even when living with a chronic lung disease, it is even more important to look after these vital organs as best we can. The Rush University Medical Center has some useful advice to help keep your lungs as healthy as possible.

Change the way you breathe.
Most people tend to breathe in shallow breaths, not filling up the entire lung with air. Deep breathing and diaphragmatic breathing allow the lungs to fully inflate and deflate, helping to increase lung capacity and get more oxygen into the blood stream. Counting your breaths helps you determine how long you can inhale and exhale for which can also improve lung function. Try to match the time it takes to exhale with the time it takes to inhale, that way know you have emptied your lungs fully. Try to extend the amount of time it takes to inhale and exhale for maximum benefit.

Adopt good posture.
Allow your lungs the space they need to fully inflate and deflate by sitting and standing up straight. Hunching over pushes the stomach and other organs into the lungs. Sitting straight with your hands above your head, or leaning back and pushing out your chest from time to time will give your lungs extra room.

Drink lots of water.
Your lungs need water as much as the rest of your body. Staying hydrated helps the mucus lining in the lungs stay thin, which helps them perform better. If the mucus becomes too thick, it can lead to lung infections. However, many PH patients are on fluid-restricted diets, so make sure you speak to your doctor to determine your ideal hydration level.

Laugh a lot.
Like the soul, laughing is good for the lungs. The action of laughing gives your abdomen and diaphragm a workout. Deep belly laughs help to force out stale air from the lungs.

Stay physically active.
Moderate exercise is excellent for maintaining lung health. Your lungs will thank you for just 20 minutes a day of exercise that leaves you slightly short of breath, like fast walking or cycling.

Join a breathers’ club.
The Better Breathers Club (which is run by the American Lung Foundation) is great for people who have compromised lung health. Pulmonary rehabilitation can also help to improve lung function for those living with lung diseases.

Pulmonary Hypertension News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

by Wendy Henderson | January 15, 2018

Share this article:

How to take good care of your lungs

We tend to take our lungs for granted, that is until we develop breathing difficulties. But even when living with a chronic lung disease, it is even more important to look after these vital organs as best we can. The Rush University Medical Center has some useful advice to help keep your lungs as healthy as possible.

Change the way you breathe.
Most people tend to breathe in shallow breaths, not filling up the entire lung with air. Deep breathing and diaphragmatic breathing allow the lungs to fully inflate and deflate, helping to increase lung capacity and get more oxygen into the blood stream. Counting your breaths helps you determine how long you can inhale and exhale for which can also improve lung function. Try to match the time it takes to exhale with the time it takes to inhale, that way know you have emptied your lungs fully. Try to extend the amount of time it takes to inhale and exhale for maximum benefit.

Adopt good posture.
Allow your lungs the space they need to fully inflate and deflate by sitting and standing up straight. Hunching over pushes the stomach and other organs into the lungs. Sitting straight with your hands above your head, or leaning back and pushing out your chest from time to time will give your lungs extra room.

Drink lots of water.
Your lungs need water as much as the rest of your body. Staying hydrated helps the mucus lining in the lungs stay thin, which helps them perform better. If the mucus becomes too thick, it can lead to lung infections. However, many PH patients are on fluid-restricted diets, so make sure you speak to your doctor to determine your ideal hydration level.

Laugh a lot.
Like the soul, laughing is good for the lungs. The action of laughing gives your abdomen and diaphragm a workout. Deep belly laughs help to force out stale air from the lungs.

Stay physically active.
Moderate exercise is excellent for maintaining lung health. Your lungs will thank you for just 20 minutes a day of exercise that leaves you slightly short of breath, like fast walking or cycling.

Join a breathers’ club.
The Better Breathers Club (which is run by the American Lung Foundation) is great for people who have compromised lung health. Pulmonary rehabilitation can also help to improve lung function for those living with lung diseases.

Pulmonary Hypertension News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

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