Your lungs play an essential role in your body. They (seemingly effortlessly) handle the breathing process and distribute oxygen to the rest of the body. Without healthy lungs, even everyday tasks like talking and laughing can become challenging. It’s therefore essential for your overall health to keep your lungs in tip-top shape.
Here’s the problem. The environment you live in might present risk factors that contribute to lung complications and you don’t even know it. For instance, studies show that more than 137 million Americans live in areas with high levels of air pollution. Constant exposure to air pollution causes lung problems in healthy individuals and worsens the conditions of individuals already dealing with lung complications, like asthma.
How Does Air Pollution Affect Your Lung Health?
Long-term exposure to air pollution can spiral out of control. Polluted air irritates the respiratory system and inflames the airways. It also limits the lung development of babies. People exposed to air pollution are at a higher risk of:
- Asthma: This is a chronic disease that causes inflammation and narrowing of the airways. Its symptoms include tightening of the chest, wheezing, coughing, and difficulty breathing. According to the AAFA, about 25 million people in the US have asthma.
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: This is an inflammatory lung disease that causes obstructed airflow from the lungs. It includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Symptoms of COPD include frequent coughing and wheezing, excess phlegm, shortness of breath, and trouble breathing. The World Health Organization states that COPD is the third leading cause of death worldwide.
- Lung cancer: Lung cancer is a leading cause of cancer deaths globally. You might already know that smoking cigarettes causes lung cancer, and it’s linked to about 80% of cancer deaths. While these statistics are factual, other studies indicate that exposure to air pollution also contributes to lung cancer.
Can Indoor Air Threaten Your Lung Health?
Yes! Perhaps ironically, indoor air is more polluted than outside air, and constant exposure to indoor pollutants can harm your lung health. The following factors (among others) play a role:
Mold is a fungus that grows both outdoors and indoors. While it naturally occurs outside and has essential roles, mold growing inside your home is problematic. Mold grows in damp spaces in your house, such as along windows and in your washing machine. The presence of mold in your home can trigger allergic reactions like sneezing and coughing. Moreover, it worsens the conditions of individuals living with respiratory diseases. Mold sickness is a real threat.
Your house has a higher concentration of allergens than you can probably imagine. For example, your pets can leave a trail of fur and dander in their wake. Plus, pets can bring in germs and bacteria from outside places. Bacteria can get trapped in their hair and can even be tracked inside on their paws.
And this doesn’t even include outdoor allergens that can make their way inside, like pollen.
3. Volatile Organic Compounds
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are compounds with high vapor pressure and low water solubility. They are emitted as gasses from certain solids or liquids within your home. Sources of VOCs in your home include paints, furniture, personal care products, fuel oil, and cleaning products, which can be toxic.
Breathing in VOCs leads to aggravated asthma symptoms and irritates your respiratory system.
We’ve already touched on how dangerous smoking is for your lung health. While it’s not as big of a threat, secondhand smoke is still dangerous, especially if you live with a smoker.
Wildfire smoke is also dangerous to your health and can make its way into your house, especially if you live in areas prone to them. Fine particles in the smoke are respiratory irritants, and high exposure to them results in persistent coughing, difficulty breathing, wheezing, and phlegm. Removing wildfire smoke from your home is essential to your health.
The smell of scented candles stimulates a soothing effect in your body and helps to relieve stress. However, candles might be affecting the air quality in your home. Many candles are made from paraffin wax, which, when burnt, emits toxic substances like toluene and benzene. Exposure to these substances is harmful to your respiratory system. Opt for soy or beeswax candles instead!
4 Tips to Keep Your Lungs Healthy
Now that you know what’s threatening your lung health (and why it matters), let’s talk about what you can do about it.
Exercise keeps your body in shape and also improves your lung health. Working out makes your muscles work harder, and that includes your lungs. Plus, exercise helps to speed up your breathing and increases the amount of oxygen and nutrients delivered to your body.
Even if it’s a 10-minute walk around the neighborhood, commit to moving your body a little bit every day.
2. Keep Moisture Under Control
Mold grows in damp or high-moisture spaces. Use a dehumidifier (which removes humidity from the hair) to keep your humidity levels at 30% to 50%. Also, make it a habit to wipe damp surfaces in your house and fix any leaking pipes. You should also crack the door or window after showering. It helps to prevent mold growth.
3. Quit Smoking
Easier said than done, we know. But cigarette smoke has thousands of toxins that damage your lungs. According to the ALA, just 20 minutes after smoking, your body starts to feel better, beginning with your heart rate dropping to a normal level.
4. Use an Air Purifier
Getting an air purifier is one of the best ways to protect your lungs since it cleans the air in your home. Be sure to choose a purifier that captures all types of allergens in your air and uses a replaceable filter, not a washable one.
For instance, the Sans air purifier has a three-stage filtration process and UV-C light to ensure optimal air purification. The purification process begins in the pre-filter, where larger allergens, like hair and dust, are trapped. The air then passes through the medical-grade HEPA 13 filter, which further captures the likes of pet hair and dander. The third stage is the activated carbon filter, which neutralizes VOCs and harmful chemicals in the air. Finally, the UV-C light addition to ensure it won't grow on the filters and come back to harm your lung health.
The body's survival depends on healthy lungs. While there are threats to the air you breathe, there’s also something you can do about it. Avoid inhaling smoke, keep the humidity levels in your home under control, stay active, and always have an air purifier running nearby. Shop with Sans today to take control of your lung health.