Health experts and researchers say the virus that causes COVID-19 goes deeper than the typical viruses, like the common cold, which is why so many people get severe symptoms. Some die of it. COVID-19 causes lung inflammation, making breathing hard for those who are infected.
The condition can eventually lead to pneumonia, which is an infection that causes blood to exchange carbon dioxide and oxygen. Now more than ever, we need to care for our respiratory health, even as vaccines are rolled out across the United States.
Here are some resolutions to make if you want your lungs to be healthy enough to resist COVID-19 if you get infected.
There are no ifs and buts: smoking increases our risk for severe COVID-19 because smoking of any kind generally weakens our lung capacity. It also makes it harder for us to fight off other kinds of respiratory diseases. Aside from increasing our risk for developing severe COVID-19 symptoms, smoking is also the major cause of pulmonary disease and lung cancer. If you’re a smoker, the time to quit was yesterday. Talk to your primary care provider about what your options are in terms of quitting. If you find the resolve to stop smoking once and for all, that’s already half the battle.
Get rid of indoor pollutants
At a time when we’re spending the majority of our days at home, we need to make sure that our home’s indoor air quality is always in tip-top shape.
Some pollutants that can affect your lung health include:
- Carpet fibers
- Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
- Skin flakes
- Biological pollutants
- Wood smoke
- Secondhand smoke
- Carbon monoxide
- Indoor particulate matter
- Pet dander
- Cooking smoke
- Nitrogen dioxide
Combat this by consulting with professionals who can maintain your HVAC system, clean up your air ducts and filters, and keep up with your AC repairs and maintenance. There is so much benefit to hiring a dedicated team of HVAC solutions providers because they’re able to address any possible issues you may have, which can then keep the air pollutants away from your home.
Avoid outdoor pollutants.
If there are air pollutants in your home that threaten the health of your respiratory system, you can be sure that many pollutants exist in outdoor air, too. Although you need fresh air from time to time, the air quality outside varies drastically from day to day and can be unhealthy to breathe, unless you live in an area filled with trees. Before you leave your home for whatever reason, consider checking the air quality in your area.
Prevent being infected by other viruses.
Practice minimal public health standards in your day to day life. Here are some key habits to maintain to keep yourself from being infected by other coronaviruses or infectious diseases:
- Stay home if you can
- If you must go out, wear a mask. Check if yours is approved by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Keep a physical distance of at least six feet from other people, especially those you don’t live with
- Bring an alcohol-based sanitizer with you so you can sanitize your hands at all times. When you get home, wash your hands thoroughly with water and soap for at least 20 seconds.
Incorporate healthy food into your diet
Aside from avoiding toxins in the air, you also need to incorporate foods that promote lung health into your diet.
Here are some of them:
- Green tea
- Red cabbage
- Edamame beans
- Olive oil
- Brazil nuts
- Swiss chard
Find ways to add these ingredients into your diet, like making turmeric tea instead of buying a cup of coffee from Starbucks. You can also find recipes with these ingredients as the star of the show; you just need some resourcefulness and creativity.
Get your cardio going
Aerobic exercises, like jumping rope, running and walking is exactly what your lungs need to build up strength and endurance. The American Lung Association says that exercise of any kind strengthens the lungs because when we exert our bodies, our lungs and heart work together and harder to provide the additional oxygen our muscles require. Resolve to move your body this year, even if you start with walking.
The Bottom Line
As long as you’re still breathing, it’s never too late to do something to keep strengthen your lungs, no matter how much you’ve neglected it in the past. So put down the cigarette, and believe in your capacity to build healthier habits this 2021.