October is National Healthy Lung Month, a time to increase awareness and education around the topic of having good lung health. There’s a misconception that only people who smoke get lung cancer, but this is not true. In fact, as many as 20 percent of people in the U.S. with lung cancer have never smoked!
To reduce your risk for lung cancer and other respiratory conditions, here are some of the best ways to keep your lungs healthy.
A cold or respiratory infection can be serious. To avoid complications, it’s best to prevent the illness in the first place. While not all viruses can be avoided, you can reduce your risk for getting sick by washing your hands, avoiding crowded places, social distancing, wearing a mask and getting your vaccinations.
Regular physical activity makes your lungs stronger. When you’re active, your heart and lungs work harder to supply oxygen to the muscles. This makes your heart and lungs stronger and more efficient at getting oxygen into the bloodstream. Talk to your doctor about starting an exercise program if you have an underlying health condition.
If you smoke, it’s time to quit. Cigarette smoking is the major cause of lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Cigarette smoke can narrow the air passages and make it harder to breathe, raising your chances for chronic bronchitis and inflamed lung tissue. Schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss your options for quitting smoking.
Minimize Exposure to Indoor and Outdoor Pollutants
Unfortunately, there are chemicals and toxins all around us that can worsen lung disease. Pay attention to the weather and avoid exercising outdoors on bad air days. Test your home or workplace for radon levels. Also keep your home and car free of cigarette smoke.
Visit Your Doctor Regularly
Lastly, be sure to schedule routine appointments with your doctor. If you have difficulty traveling, schedule a checkup with visiting physician services that will come to your home. Regular checkups and screenings help prevent diseases even when you are feeling well.
Lung cancer doesn’t usually cause symptoms until the cancer has spread, making it difficult to treat. Talk to your doctor about the benefits of screening for lung cancer and if this is something you should do.