By Dr. Jamie Huysman, LCSW, CFT
Breathing is a naturally cycling function of the body. We inhale to inflate the lungs and move oxygen from the air into the blood stream. Then we exhale, allowing the lungs to deflate and prepare for new oxygen to keep us alive. It’s something most of us don’t even think about. Our bodies do it for us automatically.
It’s October, so we’re going to talk about lung health, in celebration of National Healthy Lung Month. The seasonal change from summer to autumn causes many respiratory and lung ailments due to pollens and mold from lower temperatures and wet conditions. Those with seasonal allergies know this all too well.
Sadly, the luxury of taking a breath is not available to everyone. There are millions among us whose lungs don’t function as they should. Among them are those with asthma, bronchitis, COPD, pneumonia, AIDS, tuberculosis, and lung cancer. These are just some of the numerous life-threatening lung diseases and respiratory issues that need us to pay attention to their warning signs all year long. Among them are asthma, bronchitis, COPD, pneumonia, AIDS, tuberculosis, and lung cancer. Chronic cough, shortness of breath, chronic mucus production, noisy breathing or wheezing, coughing up blood, and chronic chest pain are all warning signs that something is wrong.
The ever-present threats to lung health are smoking, secondhand smoke, vaping, and air pollutants, both indoor and outdoor.
Exercising the lungs results in increased lung capacity. Lung capacity is the lung’s ability to provide your body and its organs with the vital oxygen it needs to live a happier, healthier life.
Maintaining healthy lungs can be as easy as taking a brisk walk every day. For those who are bedridden or not able to get around, there are a variety of devices that can help improve the health of your lungs.
The American Lung Association has a Lung HelpLine, where there is access to free counseling with registered nurses, respiratory therapists and quit smoking specialists; 1-800-LUNGUSA (586-4872).
Dr. Jamie is a popular keynote speaker, media expert, and author. He co-authored the acclaimed “Take Your Oxygen First: Protecting Your Health & Happiness While Caring for a Loved One with Memory Loss.” Dr. Huysman writes for Caregiver SOS, Connections, JoanLunden.com, Huddol.com, and blogs on PsychologyToday.com.