It's incredibly important to take care of your lungs, whether you have healthy lungs, or a disease such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, you need to keep your lungs working as well as possible. Your whole body depends on your lungs to keep breathing and distributing oxygen-rich blood throughout your body and to get rid of the body's gaseous waste, carbon dioxide. Your whole body depends on your lungs working correctly, but your brain and heart are two of the major organs that require more oxygen than any other part.
Now that summer is over; many people are going into the colder months of the year, which is when they are more likely to experience trouble breathing. The seasons affect everyone differently, and for many people, October is the beginning of the tougher time of the year. This is an appropriate time to think about taking extra care of your health, and your lungs in particular. Besides following your doctor's orders on medication and follow-ups, there are many things you can do to help keep your lungs as healthy as possible.
Stop Smoking and Never Start Again
Once you quit smoking, your lungs begin to bounce back a little, even if you've been smoking for many years. Also if the damage has already been done and you've been diagnosed with COPD, quitting will still make a difference in how the disease progresses or not. It could make a huge difference in how severe your exacerbations are, and whether or not you have them at all.
Pay Close Attention to Your Breathing
Call your doctor at the first sign of a flare-up. He or she will have you treated before the exacerbation puts you in danger. You should also be mindful of how you are breathing, in the sense that you should be breathing in deeply through your nose and out through your mouth. We often get into the habit of breathing too shallow or breathing in through our mouths. Breathing through your nose filters the air better and allows for a deeper breath. Use a peak flow meter to keep an eye on your lung function at home.
Drink Plenty of Water
If you have COPD, you likely have an overabundance of thick phlegm in your airways. Drinking at least 64 ounces of water a day will help thin the mucus and make it much easier for you to get rid of. Staying well hydrated will also help keep your immune system working as well as possible to keep out any illnesses that can flare up your COPD or asthma.
Avoid Air Pollutants
This goes for the air inside, as well as outside. You shouldn't be using any strong chemicals to clean your home, and wood burning stoves can also be harmful. If you must use bleach to clean with, use only a little bleach mixed with water. A little bleach or ammonia goes a long way. Avoid using chemical air fresheners and stick to things that are more natural, but pay attention to make sure even the natural scents aren't bothering you.
Information on this page is for reference and educational purposes only. For more information talk to your doctor or primary care provider.
Page last updated: October 26, 2018
- American Lunch Association. Smoking Facts. https://www.lung.org/stop-smoking/smoking-facts/
- American Lung Associations. Nutrition and COPD. https://www.lung.org/lung-health-and-diseases/lung-disease-lookup/copd/living-with-copd/nutrition.html