Just like our heart, we sometimes take our lungs for granted. They both keep us alive and well and for the most part, we don’t need to think about them. Unfortunately, heart disease is the number 1 cause of death in the US, and respiratory disease is number 3. In fact, this year around 222,500 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed in the United States, and there will be more than 155,000 deaths from the disease. That’s why it is important to prioritize your lung health.
To best understand the challenges in regard to lung function, let’s consider healthy respiratory function.
Anatomically speaking, upper respiratory passages consist of nasal passages and sinus cavities. Lower respiratory passages begin with the trachea, which branch into two main bronchi, which then further branch into bronchioles, ending in alveoli. Alveoli are the sites of gas exchange, where oxygen is absorbed into the bloodstream from inhalation, and carbon dioxide is released for disposal by exhalation. Your nervous system directly controls both inhalation and exhalation via nerves from your neck and upper thoracic spine.
Your body has a natural defense system designed to protect the lungs, keeping dirt and germs at bay. The nose contains hair, to help filter out dust and particulate matter. Your sinus cavities contain healthy bacteria that keep unhealthy bacteria from colonizing. The respiratory tract is lined with mucus-producing goblet cells and tiny cilia, together known as the mucociliary escalator. Goblet cells produce mucus that rests on the cilia, which move rhythmically to propel the mucus (and any dust or microbes trapped within it) up toward the throat, to be swallowed or spit out. The bronchi also warm and humidify air.
Here are some ways to keep your lungs healthy:
Don’t smoke – Cigarette smoking is the major cause of lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Cigarette smoke causes chronic inflammation, or swelling in the lung, which can lead to chronic bronchitis. Over time cigarette smoke destroys lung tissue, and cab trigger DNA changes that grow into cancer. If you smoke, it’s never too late to benefit from quitting.
Avoid Exposure To Air Pollutants – Mold, secondhand smoke, outdoor air pollution, chemicals in the home and workplace, and radon all can cause or worsen lung disease. Make your home and car are smoke-free. Test your home for mold and radon. Avoid exercising outdoors on bad air days or during extreme cold weather. And talk to your healthcare provider if you are worried that something in your home, school or work may be making you sick.
Exercise – Aerobic exercise helps improve your lung capacity. Specific breathing exercises can also help improve your lung function. Exercise and breathing techniques are also great for improving your mood and helping you relax.
Get Adjusted – While a chiropractor may be the last medical professional a COPD sufferer thinks about seeking help from, numerous medical journals have cited studies that show that adjustments to the spine, especially the neck, have led to rapid improvement in respiratory symptoms including COPD and asthma.
If you or a loved one is suffering from a respiratory condition or other chronic health condition, we at Stanly Wellness Center are here to help. All you need to do is call our office at 980-355-7600 and schedule your FREE consultation, or visit our website at www.AskDrPatrick.com and fill out the CONTACT US form. We work with all major insurances including Medicare.