When you consider your health, what comes to mind? You might think about eating a balanced diet to maintain a healthy weight. Perhaps you picture exercising to build muscles and promote heart health. Your respiratory system is another vital piece of the puzzle you can’t afford to neglect.
Lung health has been in the spotlight more than usual since the coronavirus pandemic set in more than a year ago. The respiratory system is comprised of your airways, lungs, and the muscles and blood vessels connected to them. This system is responsible for carrying oxygen throughout the body, which supports everything from organ function to brain health to muscle strength and stamina. Here are the top ways to protect your respiratory system for healthy lungs.
Smoking is the number one cause of lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The chemicals in cigarettes narrow your airways, damage your lungs, and make breathing more difficult. Healing begins the day you stop smoking, so it’s never too late to quit. Be sure to avoid secondhand smoke as well.
Watch Air Pollution Levels
The air quality in Wayne County is better than other more populated regions of New York, but car exhaust and other sources of pollution can still irritate sensitive individuals. Stay inside on days when an air quality alert is issued.
Clean the Air in Your Home
Outdoor air isn’t the only thing that can get polluted. Indoor levels of some airborne contaminants can be two to five times higher than outside! Follow these tips to lower the risk of breathing problems:
- Run kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans when cooking and showering to vent moisture and fumes outside.
- Avoid harsh household cleaning products.
- Wipe down the tub and walls after showering to prevent mold growth.
- Open the windows to allow fresh air to enter as often as possible.
- Get a few house plants to help remove harmful compounds from the air and increase the indoor oxygen level.
Eat Foods that Promote Lung Health
A diet full of certain nutrients—such as magnesium, potassium, selenium, zinc, and vitamins A, C, and E—can help keep your lungs healthy and strong. Boost respiratory function by eating foods high in these nutrients, including fresh produce, yogurt, turmeric, pumpkin, green tea, and lentils.
Water is the key to healthy lung function. After all, by drinking enough water, your mucus secretions stay thin, helping your lungs do their job better. This is especially important for people with COPD because it makes it easier to cough up mucus that causes discomfort and breathing difficulties.
Wash Your Hands Frequently
It’s been the constant mantra since the COVID-19 pandemic began—wash your hands often and avoid touching your face. These are good practices for avoiding other respiratory illnesses as well.
Cold and flu viruses linger on common surfaces, such as doorknobs and light switches. By washing your hands before the germs can enter your body through your mouth, nose, or eyes, you can avoid getting sick. If running water and soap aren’t available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Avoid Visiting People Who are Sick
For many, a cold or the flu is a relatively mild illness. However, older adults and anyone with cardiovascular disease are at risk of developing complications, including pneumonia. Before visiting with a friend or family member, make sure they’re feeling well. If they have symptoms of a cold or the flu—many of which are the same as COVID-19—reschedule your get-together.
First, make it a priority to get your yearly flu vaccine. This protects your respiratory system by preventing or decreasing the severity of viral infections that can damage the lungs.
Then, if you haven’t received your COVID-19 vaccine yet, schedule an appointment at a local vaccination site as soon as possible. All senior New York residents are eligible to receive the safe, effective, and free vaccine, so don’t wait! Learn more from the New York State Health Department.
Schedule an Annual Physical with Your Doctor
Regular checkups are a proactive way to prevent lung disease and other conditions. Sitting through a physical exam and being honest with your doctor increase the chance of catching problems early. In many cases, the sooner you begin treatment, the easier it is to prevent a disease from progressing any further.
Give your lungs the attention they deserve, and you should succeed in protecting your respiratory system. Parkwood Heights is a stress-free senior living community where you can breathe easy! We currently have a limited visitation policy in place to help ensure guests don’t bring unwanted illnesses into our community. These precautions, along with your own personal efforts, can go a long way toward maintaining our residents’ health and safety. To learn more about our Senior Living Community, please contact us online or call (315) 986-9100 today.