7 ways to breathe better

7 ways to breathe better

Inhale, exhale. A simple action that we take for granted.

Dr. Cassandra Edwards, an internal medicine physician at Aurora Health Care, shares some easy ways you can protect your lungs to keep them healthy.

1. Learn the warning signs

If you’re experiencing a chronic cough, shortness of breath, constant mucus production, wheezing or chronic chest pain you should schedule an appointment with your doctor.

2. Become smoke-free

Cigarette smoking is the major cause of lung cancer. The smoke will narrow air passages which can make breathing more difficult, cause inflammation and destroy lung tissue that may lead to cancer. If you are smoking and looking for a plan to quit, consult with a doctor.

3. Avoid pollutants

Avoid secondhand smoke and check the weather for air quality. On days the air quality is poor, limit outdoor activity. Check your home radon levels, a naturally occurring gas that negatively impacts indoor air quality.

4. Prevent infection

A common cold or respiratory infection can become very serious if preexisting conditions exist. Be sure to wash your hands with soap and water, avoid crowds during cold season, get vaccinated against influenza and practice good oral hygiene.

It is recommended all patients 65 and over get at least one pneumonia vaccine. Younger patients with certain medical conditions may also benefit. Discuss with your doctor if the pneumonia vaccine is right for you.

5. Get regular check-ups

Lung disease can go undetected until it becomes serious; we recommend scheduling regular appointments with your doctor to ensure consistent lung health. If you have a history of smoking, you may be eligible for advanced lung cancer screening.

6. Exercise

During physical activity, the lungs work harder to supply additional oxygen to the body which strengthens the muscle. National guidelines recommend that all adults achieve 30 minutes of physical activity five days a week, this can range from walking briskly, bicycling, running or even Pilates.

7. Breathing exercises

These exercises help rid the lungs of accumulated stale air, increase oxygen levels and exercise the diaphragm. Start by breathing in through your nose paying attention to how your stomach expands. You can even put your hands or tissue box lightly on your stomach to see the rising and falling. Exhale through your mouth at least two to three times longer than your inhale. Be sure to relax your neck and shoulders as your diaphragm works to empty and fill your lungs. It’s recommended that you do this practice for 5-10 minutes every day for the best results.

If you are experiencing symptoms of lung disease or are worried about your lung health, call and make an appointment with your doctor.

Want to learn more about your risk for lung cancer? Take a free online quiz to learn more. 

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.