From a gentle sigh or blood-curdling scream to the simple act of speaking, you rely on your lungs for some basic functions. You also rely on them for the not-so-basic function of sustaining your life, so learn how to keep them from harm and give them every advantage.
Our team of experienced specialists at Rockland Thoracic & Vascular Associates in New York and New Jersey explain the best ways to support optimal lung health so you can avoid serious lung conditions.
Types of lung diseases
To emphasize why you need to take good care of your lungs, let’s look at what can go wrong if you don’t. Some types of lung disease are genetic or injury-related, but many are triggered by controllable factors.
Your lungs receive and send out air through airways that carry oxygen and other gasses. Anything that narrows or blocks those airways can leave you gasping for breath as if you’re breathing through a straw. Examples of airway diseases include:
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Chronic and acute bronchitis
- Cystic fibrosis
Airway blockage can result in coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.
Air sac problems
Your lungs’ airways branch off into bronchioles, thin, tubular tributaries that culminate in groups of tiny air sacs at the end called alveoli. Several different diseases can affect these tiny air sacs, such as:
- Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)
- Pulmonary edema
- Lung cancer
Since the alveoli comprise the majority of your lung tissue, protecting them is crucial.
Blood circulation problems
After your arteries deliver oxygen-rich blood to all the parts of your body, blood vessels return the oxygen-depleted blood to your lungs to get a fresh supply, so your heart can send it out again.
If those vessels become diseased, blocked, or injured, it causes severe complications. Examples of blood vessel-related lung problems, include:
- Blood clots, such as a pulmonary embolism
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Pulmonary hypertension
These conditions can lead to chest pain, shortness of breath, low blood oxygen, and even death.
Tips for taking care of your lungs
To support optimal lung health and give yours the very best chance of avoiding these problems, we’ve compiled a few basic, but essential, tips to help you take care of your lungs.
This message has been around for a long time, and most people understand the dangers of tobacco, especially cigarette smoke, but it still remains the No. 1 cause of lung cancer and COPD.
Every puff of smoke narrows your airways, triggers inflammation, and destroys lung tissue.
Check air quality daily
Here in New York and New Jersey, we love city life, but it comes at a price. Car exhaust and other types of outdoor pollutants fill the air, and our lungs as well. But some days are worse than others.
Use an app on your phone or look it up online so you know what to expect from day to day. On days when the air quality is poor, stay inside as much as possible or wear a mask when you go out.
Beware of indoor pollutants
If you spend all day indoors, don’t be fooled into thinking your lungs are safe. Household and industrial cleaning solvents, secondhand smoke, radon, and other chemicals lurk in indoor spaces. You can check for some of these with an inexpensive monitor.
Regular exercise that includes cardiovascular activities keeps your body and your lungs in top shape and puts them in the best position to fight off pathogens that may come their way.
Speaking of pathogens, do your best to avoid germs and the infections they cause by washing your hands regularly, avoiding sick people, and practicing good oral hygiene (bacteria from your mouth can enter your lungs).
If you do experience a respiratory infection, stay home, get rest, and seek medical care if necessary.
If you’re concerned about your lung health, schedule an appointment at any of our five locations in Washington Heights (Manhattan), Pomona, Goshen, and Fishkill, New York, or Englewood, New Jersey. Simply call or book online.