Respiratory Care Week 2020
October 25-30 marks Respiratory Care week. This time of the month is dedicated to celebrating the respiratory care doctors and specialists who treat patients for all kinds of respiratory issues and conditions. It is also a time to educate our communities about lung diseases like COPD and asthma.
With the common cold, flu and COVID-19 in full swing this fall, there are many reasons to work hard for strong respiratory health. Follow these few easy steps to build your respiratory health this autumn.
Stop Smoking for Better Respiratory Health
Dr. Robert Eitches, an allergist and immunologist at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles says, “One of the most important steps to improving your respiratory health is avoiding anything that impairs lung function, such as smoking cigarettes and vaping.”
Smoking and vaping cause irritation in the lung airways that leads to permanent, adverse effects on lung function by destroying lung tissue where air exchange occurs. “Smoke is composed of small particles; when inhaled, the particles get stuck in the lungs,” Eitches said. “This begins a vicious cycle of permanent lung damage.”
Both activities can also suppress the immune system, which you need to be able to help fight infections.
Exercise can improve a person’s breathing ability. Alveoli are tiny, balloon-shaped air sacs arranged in clusters throughout the lungs. They’re integral to the respiratory system, as they exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide to and from the bloodstream.
A person’s lungs grow accustomed to this state when sedentary. They slightly “collapse” leaving it harder to breathe when put under pressure. Doing regular exercise and cardio puts just enough pressure on your lungs to keep them expanded and therefore able to collect more oxygen when needed.
Reduce excess mucus buildup
In our respiratory tract, we have little hairs called cilia that move external pollutants and bacteria (including viruses) out of our tract. When we have things that irritate our nasal passages, we produce more mucus and therefore become more congested. This leads to less of an ability to breathe.
Meals high in liquids and Spicy foods can help thin any mucus and also hydrate your system, allowing your body to function more efficiently. Spicy foods that have capsaicin — chiles, jalapenos, cayenne, hot sauce — can thin mucus and allow it to be coughed out.
Be sure to always stay hydrated and drink plenty of water every day. If you feel a cold or congestion coming on, try warming up your water with lemon or slurp soup broth to ease any pain and provide relief for your passageways.
Minimize exposure to allergens
We are exposed to more indoor allergens during the pandemic indoors. With allergies, you are more likely to produce excess mucus, making it hard to breathe from your nose. You in turn breathe cooler, non-filtered air from your mouth, making it harder to breathe and harder on your respiratory system.
Managing dust via cleaning and an air filter, and managing pollen allergies with medication, can help avoid having to rub or blow your nose to open it up — If your hands are unclean, you risk becoming infected with the virus.
These tips can help increase your respiratory health. They are not proven to prevent COVID-19 or reduce likelihood of contracting the disease. If you suspect you need respiratory care, contact your primary care physician at CCMH today.
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