Exposure to air pollutants can also compromise the lungs, as can heart failure, which can cause fluid buildup. Some decline in lung function is expected as you age, but exercise and other measures can help you breathe better.
Environmental pollutants can cause inflammation in the lungs and narrow the airways.
“The lungs do their best to break things down and eliminate them, but it’s surprising how much material the body can’t get rid of,” says MeiLan Han, chief of the division of pulmonary and critical care at University of Michigan Health. .
Smoking, for example, as well as exposure to secondhand smoke, is known to cause long-term lung damage. Other irritants, such as dust, chemicals, and air pollution, can also affect lung health, says Han. She recommends wearing an N95 mask if you’re cleaning a dusty space, spray painting, or using harsh chemical cleaners. And she follows air quality forecasts so she can stay indoors or wear a mask outdoors when quality is poor.
A few simple adjustments can help protect you from potential lung irritants in your home, says Han. If you have a gas stove, always open a range hood when you use it (and consider switching to electric the next time you need an upgrade).
After three years covering covid, I built my own air filter
When possible, choose cleaning products labeled “Safer Choice” by the Environmental Protection Agency to help prevent lung irritation.
Air purifiers can help promote better air quality throughout your home. Consider upgrading your central filtration system or using room air purifiers.
“Prioritize them in areas with more emissions, like the kitchen area or living room if you have a fireplace, and areas where you spend the most time, like your bedroom,” says Han. HEPA filters are best because they filter out many of the emissions. small particles that can damage the lungs.
Heart and lung health go hand in hand, says GR Scott Budinger, chief of pulmonary and critical care at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Some evidence suggests that the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet may help promote lung function in people with lung diseases.
A nutritious diet can also help boost your immune system so your body can better defend itself against respiratory infections. Also prioritize foods rich in antioxidants (mainly fruits and vegetables) to avoid inflammation in the lungs and throughout the body.
There are at least three vaccines available to help protect against diseases that can cause serious damage to the lungs.
Older people accounted for 63 percent of Covid hospitalizations earlier this year.
Pneumococcus: People 65 and older are more likely to get pneumonia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, although we don’t understand exactly why, Budinger says. Pneumococcal vaccines (in a one- or two-shot series) are recommended for this age group.
COVID-19: Images of lungs damaged by the coronavirus have become common in newspapers since the pandemic began, and most older adults have already received their primary series of vaccines to protect against the disease. But for adults 65 and older, the CDC now recommends an additional updated bivalent booster.
Influenza: Get an annual flu shot. Even when it doesn’t prevent the flu, it can make the case much milder.
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