Post originally published July, 2021.
While it’s probably not something we think about often, our lungs are a vital part of keeping your body alive – working overtime to take about 20,000 breaths a day! While your body has natural defense systems in place that is designed to protect your lungs, it is still important to take steps to keep your lungs healthy.
Here are some ways you can keep your lungs healthy:
- Avoid using tobacco products. Smoking is the leading cause of lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), due to the damage it causes to lung tissue. If you would like help quitting smoking, click here to learn more about our tobacco cessation program.
- Avoid or reduce your exposure to indoor pollutants. Breathing in secondhand smoke, radon or certain household chemicals can increase your risk of lung damage. Limit your exposure whenever possible.
- Reduce your exposure to outdoor air pollution. When you can, pay attention to local air quality forecasts and try to limit your time outside on days when levels are not ideal – this is especially important for children and teens, people with asthma and other lung diseases, anyone over 65, anyone who exercises or works outdoors or has diabetes or cardiovascular disease like high blood pressure, or has suffered a heart attack or stroke.
- Take steps to prevent infection. Respiratory infections can sometimes turn into more serious illnesses that can cause significant damage to your lungs. Lower your risk of infection by washing your hands frequently, avoiding those who are sick and practicing good oral hygiene by brushing your teeth twice daily and regularly visiting your dentist.
- Visit a healthcare provider regularly. Establishing a relationship with a primary care provider is an important part of maintaining your overall health. Seeing your provider when you aren’t feeling well and scheduling annual wellness visits can help to increase the chances of catching serious diseases early.
- Remain physically active. No matter your age or activity level, participating in some form of physical exercise helps to keep your lungs strong. Talk to your healthcare provider about a physical activity plan that is right for you.
Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in men and women, and early detection is the key to helping increase survival rates. The American Cancer Society recommends that you receive an annual lung cancer screening with a low-dose CT scan (LDCT) if you meet the following conditions:
- Are aged 55 to 74 years and in fairly good health, and
- Currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years, and
- Have at least a 30-pack-year smoking history (smoked at least one pack per day for 30 years or 2 packs per day for 15 years)
If you have questions, or think you may benefit from a lung cancer screening, contact our cancer care team here or call 740-689-6889.