Breathing Easier: What Can Negatively Impact Your Lung Health?
Lung health is essential for breathing, but also to ensure every organ in your body receives enough oxygen to function properly. While we know that smoking can damage tissue and increase risk of developing cancer, there are lots of other common pollutants, irritants and conditions that can put your lung health at risk:
Cigarette smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema for the smoker. But did you know that second-hand smoke can cause numerous health issues for those sharing living or work space with a smoker? Prolonged exposure has serious risks, but even brief exposure can damage cells. If you’re a smoker there’s never been a better time to quit for the sake of your health and the health of those you love. Visit the Centers for Disease Control’s smoking cessation webpage to get started.
Air Pollution - Outdoors
Harmful substances in the air can irritate your airways and make it hard to breathe. It can be especially dangerous for those living with lung conditions such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). If you’re enjoying the outdoors, avoid high traffic areas like busy intersections, especially while exercising. Also, choosing to help stop air pollution by walking, biking or carpooling is one way to have an impact on the larger issue. And while air pollution won’t be solved overnight, you can monitor the air quality in your community by visiting www.airnow.gov.
Air Pollution – Indoors
Indoor pollutants such as mold, dust, and pet dander can all get into your lungs and cause irritation. Make your home smoke-free and clean, dust all surfaces and vacuum at least once a week. Using a vacuum with a HEPA filter will make a big difference in the air quality of your home.
Cleaning products help keep our homes safe and germ free. But many contain harsh chemicals that can irritate lungs. One easy fix is to use a mask when cleaning, or ensure your home is properly ventilated, opening windows and increasing air flow when using strong products. Also, many messes can be effectively cleaned up with soap and water.
While not using your lungs isn’t a pollutant, it certainly can have a negative impact on your overall health. Breathing exercises can make your lungs more efficient and regular exercise can build lung capacity and strength, improving your overall health.
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