The coronavirus affects lung health in many ways – none of which are good, I might add. But, you don’t have to worry. There are steps you can take to protect your lungs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Keep reading to learn more.
10. Quit Smoking
Smoking damages your lung tissues as well as your lungs’ ability to function. It’s also a major cause of cancer, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema. But, it’s not just smoking that can cause lung problems. Vaping can and does contribute to it as well. In fact, both smoking and vaping are linked to lung inflammation and lowered immune function in the lung’s airways, which can increase the likelihood of complications if you contract the coronavirus. The good news is that even if you’ve been smoking for years, you can see positive changes immediately upon quitting. For example, just a few hours after quitting smoking, carbon monoxide levels in your blood return to normal. Some things take a bit longer — like lung function, for example. You’ll see improvements in this area in just two weeks of quitting. Even years down the road you’ll reap the benefits. A decade after quitting, the risks of bladder and lung cancers are halved.
According to a recent study conducted by the University of Virginia (UVA), exercising is important during this pandemic. Dr. Zhen Yan, a professor at UVA’s Cardiovascular Research Center, told Charlottesville, Virginia’s, NBC 29 that regular exercise promotes the production of special antioxidants that protect the lungs. In fact, another study that was completed before the start of the pandemic showed that these antioxidants can help protect the lungs from Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, or ARDS, which happens to be one of the major causes of death in coronavirus patients.
8. Eat Right
Eating right can help build up your immune system and reduce inflammation, both of which are crucial to the body when dealing with a virus — and even before a virus hits. That being said, make sure you consume foods that are high in antioxidants, like fruits and vegetables (e.g. bananas, apples, tomatoes, and grapes), and foods that are high in vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon and other cold-water fish.
Here are some other important foods to eat:
–Mushrooms. These are high in vitamin D.
–Sardines. These are high in omega-3 fatty acids.
–Oregano oil. This is a natural booster to your lung health because it has antimicrobial properties. It also has been thought to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
–Thyme. Thyme supplements have been used over the years to treat bronchitis, whooping cough, and sore throat.
7. Minimize Your Exposure to Indoor Pollutants
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, indoor pollutants are worse than outdoor pollutants. As a result, you should do all you can to minimize your exposure to them. Perhaps the easiest way to do that is to keep your home free of mold, dust, and pet dander. One way to do that is to dust and vacuum at least once a week. And, when you use household cleaners, make sure you choose all-natural cleaning products whenever possible. In addition to thoroughly cleaning your home, you also need to make sure that your home is properly ventilated. You can do this by keeping your doors and windows open, when the weather permits, and by using window fans and air conditioners that send their exhaust outside.
6. Practice Social Distancing
Okay, this might seem like common sense, but it still needs to be said. Practicing social distancing right now is one of the best ways to protect your lungs. After all, COVID-19 is a respiratory disease, and anyone who contracts it can suffer from a range of breathing problems, from mild to critical. In mild and moderate cases, those infected with the virus can end up with pneumonia, a lung infection in which the alveoli are inflamed. In critical cases, the virus can damage the walls and linings of the air sacs in your lungs and cause your lungs to become even more inflamed and filled with fluid, thus making it harder for them to swap oxygen and carbon dioxide.
5. Relocate to a Tropical Island
A great way to protect your lungs is to relocate to a tropical island. That’s because the air in those areas is less likely to be filled with toxins. “Smog-filled cities are not the optimal environment for your lungs because every day little toxic particles in the air can get trapped in your lungs,” Dr. Osita Onugha, MD, chief of thoracic surgery and assistant professor of thoracic surgical oncology at John Wayne Cancer Institute at Providence St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, CA, told Eat This, Not That! “Living near highways and bus terminals can significantly increase your risk for lung disease due to the pollution caused by traffic and car exhaust, too,” Board certified in Family Medicine practitioner Michael Richardson, MD with One Medical, told Eat This, Not That!
4. Stay Hydrated
Water, as long as it doesn’t go inside your lungs, can help protect your lungs by keeping the layer of mucus inside them thin. This, in turn, helps your lungs function better. When you’re dehydrated, that layer of mucus is thicker, and in turn, impairs lung function. Just how much water you need to stay hydrated depends on your age, gender, weight, activity level, and even the climate in which you live. But, as a general rule of thumb, experts recommend gulping down eight-ounce glasses of water daily.
3. Maintain Good Posture
Bad posture isn’t just harmful to your spine, it’s also bad for your lungs. “Lungs are made up of soft tissue, and they only expand as much as you make room for,” CDC vaccine provider Dr. Michael Hall told Eat This, Not That! Slumping in your chair “squishes” your lungs, so to speak. This, in turn, limits the amount of oxygen you can take in. On the other hand, “sitting up straight gives your lungs more room to expand, which allows your lungs to capture more air and oxygen per breath.”
2. Take Tylenol for Your Fever and Aches
If you’re suffering from a coronavirus-related fever, a headache or a similar ailment, ditch the Aspirin and ibuprofen and reach for the Tylenol instead. While Aspirin and ibuprofen both can lower your fever and get rid of pain, they may actually be harming your immune system. “Although the evidence for this is purely anecdotal and rests on a few assumptions, it may be safer to take Tylenol (also known as Acetaminophen) during the pandemic, as a precaution,” an article published by Eat This, Not That! says.
1. Continue Your COPD Treatments
If you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), it’s very important that you protect your lungs during this pandemic. And, perhaps the best way to do that is to continue using your maintenance medications as prescribed. This “is an infectious respiratory disease that can cause a pneumonia-like lung infection, with a range of symptoms from mild or absent for some to life-threatening for others,” Albert Rizzo, MD, chief medical officer for the American Lung Association (ALA), said in a news release. “Everyone’s health is at risk from COVID-19, and those living with lung disease or who are immunocompromised may be more vulnerable to the impacts of the virus,” Rizzo added.
Your turn! What things have you been doing to protect your lungs? Let us know in the comments below.