October is Healthy Lung Month, a time meant to recognize the importance of your lungs. They keep you breathing, and also keep every other one of your organs functioning. Essentially, when you breathe in the lung take in oxygen and pass it along to the bloodstream, which brings it to your bodies cells. In return it picks up carbon dioxide, which the lungs dispose of. Every time you breathe this process is happening. That is why it’s crucial to keep your lungs healthy.
Unfortunately, the environment does not always help the way that our lungs function. There are many risk factors that contribute to lung related health complications. They can be things we don’t even realize that we’re breathing in. Sometimes they can be avoided, other times they cannot, however, it’s important to know what they are and know what you can do to protect your lungs.
Cigarette smoke is the #1 cause of lung cancer, with smokers accounting for 80% of all lung cancer diagnoses. Other lung conditions caused by cigarette smoke are COPD, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, pneumonia, and tuberculosis. The smoke from cigarettes causes the lungs to become irritated, creating mucus in excess. This can cause excessive coughing and difficulty breathing. The long list of chemicals in cigarettes do nothing for your lung health either!
Sadly, tobacco smoke doesn’t stop at smokers. Non-smokers who have been exposed to secondhand smoke have a 20-30% higher chance of eventually contracting lung cancer.
This category consists of substances of a variety of different forms. Asbestos, at the top of the list, is a household carcinogen that can commonly be found in homes built before the 1980’s within insulation, tiling, plaster, etc. This fibrous material was once thought of as a miracle for its heat and fire resistant properties, however, is a known cause of an extremely aggressive cancer called mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is caused by inhaling airborne asbestos fibers, and can come along with a grim prognosis. The average life expectancy when diagnosed ranges between 12 and 21 months.
Other household carcinogens can be found in a variety of different products. It is best practice to always read the ingredients label before using a product! Look up ingredients you’re not familiar with to learn more about the products you’re using.
Outdoor Air Pollution
In a perfect world the air we breathe in would be made up of 100% clean oxygen. Unfortunately that’s not the case. There are many types of air pollution, both natural and manmade, that we consume daily. Natural air pollution includes smoke from wildfires or ash from volcanoes.
On the manmade side, the air is full of emissions that come from cars, planes, factories, etc. In locations where this is above average you’ll often times hear the pollution referred to as smog. Other products like aerosol cans, pesticides and gas appliances can also contribute, on a smaller scale, to air pollution. Both natural and manmade air pollution can contribute to a list of different lung and respiratory problems–both acute and chronic.
It is estimated that about 50 million people in the United States alone suffer from nasal allergies. Allergies do not stop there. They can lead to other chronic conditions, such as asthma, which is the 5th most common chronic disease in the U.S. Allergies and asthma can range from minor and manageable to severe and even life threatening. Anaphylaxis, an allergic reaction that can be deadly, can be triggered by medicine, food and insect stings.
Not only are allergies mad for health, but also, bad for the wallet. Americans spend over $17 billion on nasal allergy related health costs, and an astonishing $25 billion on food allergies. Allergies also contribute to over 6 million missed work and school days and over 16 million doctors visits.
Tips to Keep Your Lungs Healthy
Avoid Indoor and Outdoor Toxins
Do your best to avoid second hand smoke and other harmful toxins in the air. Keep your senses keen, to notice differences in your surroundings. Notice a different small in your house? Make sure your indoor air quality monitors are working properly, and if you suspect any problems, have it checked by a professional.
Exercise to Keep Lungs Strong
Aerobic, cardiovascular exercise on a regular basis can help improve your lung function. It increases your bodies ability to use oxygen, as well as, more effectively removed carbon dioxide. Exercise doesn’t need to be lengthy! 30 minutes to an hour of walking or jogging a few times a week can be a huge help in your lung health.
Deep Clean with Natural Products
Natural products are a safe bet for cleaning your home. It’s not uncommon for many regular cleaning products to contain a long list of hidden toxins that can be extremely hazardous to your lung health…and health in general. Not to mention, these products are deadly to children or pets that could get into them.
See Doctor for Regular Check Ups
It’s always good to make regular trips to the doctor for an annual check up. However, if you suspect something might be wrong, schedule an appointment to have it checked out right away!