3 Tips for Comprehensive Lung Health

by Brook Spencer

When it comes to lung health, there are many factors that can attribute to complications like cancer. Unfortunately, some of these are out of your control. However, many lung conditions can be avoided and controlled to some extent. It’s best to take all possible steps to prevent poor lung health!

3 Tips For Comprehensive Lung Health

Improve Indoor Air Quality

While seemingly safe, your home can contain lots of possible toxins that can lead to poor lung health. As a best practice, look out for the following in your home:

Disturbed Materials
Breathing in airborne particles can be really bad for your lungs! If your house was built before the 1980’s you want to be particularly careful. Older homes often times contain asbestos, a natural substance that was very common decades before the 80’s, and still unfortunately used today. Asbestos was once thought of as a “miracle” substance because of it’s heat and fire resistant properties. 

Asbestos

In time, it was found that asbestos caused a handful of health related complications such as lung cancer, asbestosis and mesothelioma. Mesothelioma, being the most aggressive, is a cancer that can develop in the lungs, heart or abdomen. It comes along with a very sad prognosis. Most people diagnosed are only given about 12-21 months to live. The substance is fine until disturbed, so if you notice asbestos in your home and it is damaged and particles are airborne, contact a profession immediately. All abatement should be done by professionals to ensure your safety.

Use gas monitors and gauges
Radon and carbon monoxide are two common household gases that must be monitored. Radon, an odorless, colorless, radioactive gas, comes from soil and rock and comes to surface in both indoor and outdoor air. A small percentage of radon is expected in just about all of the air that we breathe–however, larger percentages over a period of time can lead to serious health concerns. Lung cancer can develop over time from breathing in radon.

Carbon monoxide, another colorless and odorless gas, can also cause respiratory problems when consumed at higher levels. This gas is given off from fuel from cars, trucks and other automobiles, as well as grills, stoves, etc. It also comes from the air humans and animals breathe out.

In order to avoid breathing in these toxins in your home, use gas detectors to monitor the levels of these gases in your home. Just be sure to check regularly to make sure the batteries are still working! You can also buy home air testing kits to check and to see if your radon levels are high.

Avoid harsh chemicals
Deep cleaning is extremely important for your home! Keep in mind when cleaning that the products you choose to use are extremely important as well. Using harsh and potentially carcinogenic chemicals to clean is counterproductive–causing more harm than good. The Environmental Working Group offers an extensive guide to healthy cleaning that provides a handful of helpful materials to help you make good decisions when cleaning your home.

Cleaning

They recommend top products to use for cleaning, as well as offer a label decoder. Often times the ingredient list on cleaning products looks like a foreign language. This decoder will help you figure out whether or not you’d want to use the product on your everyday surfaces.

Keep plants that help remove toxins
Indoor plants are a great option whether you’re looking for stye perks or health benefits. Many houseplants offer both! The Spathiphyllum, commonly referred to as the Peace Lily is a beautiful indoor plant that requires minimal care. Little light and water are needed to keep the plant flourishing. An analysis conducted by NASA proved that the Peace Lily is the most effective plant at removing airborne Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). These compounds include formaldehyde, trichloroethylene and benzene.

House Plants

Other indoor plants with similar air purifying benefits include, but are not limited to:
● Chrysanthemum
● Devil’s Ivy
● Red-Edged Dracaena
● Snake Plant
● Lady Palm

Don’t Smoke–OR Quit Smoking

The most prevalent and deadly cancer in both men and women is lung cancer. It is estimated that this year over 150,000 people in the United States will die from lung cancer. That statistic contributes to nearly 30% of all cancer related deaths.

Smoking is the #1 cause of lung cancer. 80-90% of all lung cancer deaths are in smokers. The 10-20% of other cases can be attributed to radon, asbestos, and other carcinogens. Considering how many inhalable toxins there are that can hurt the lungs, it is astonishing that the majority of lung cancer deaths come from one cause.

No Smoking

Sadly, cigarette smoke can hurt not only smokers, but those who are exposed to secondhand smoke. Breathing in another person's smoke regularly can increase your chances are getting lung cancer by 20-30%

Remember, it’s never too late to quit smoking! Your lungs are truly amazing organs that have the ability to heal themselves...to some extent. That means quitting smoking can help to improve your health, and give you back some of what you lost from smoking.

Only 12 hours after quitting smoking your body will have lower levels of carbon monoxide, and conversely higher levels of oxygen, which is great for your entire body. A few weeks after quitting you will find that your lung function is improving and physical activity is easier than it was previously. After a month your lungs will begin to repair themselves, starting with the cillia. These tiny hair-like structures help keep the lungs clean, pushing mucus out. High levels of mucus means you will have shortness of breath and most likely will experience lots of coughing. With the cillia repair this will improve!

One of the most astonishing facts is that after a decade your chances of getting and dying from lung cancer will drop in half. Making the decision to quit can prove to be well worth it once you realize the benefits that it will bring!

See Your Doctor for Regular Checkups

This goes for your general health, not just lung health. Visiting your doctor for regular checkups is crucial. They are professionals, and it’s always a good practice to visit them for an annual check up to make sure everything looks and sounds good. If you suspect something might be wrong, schedule a visit aside from your annual check up. It can never hurt to see your doctor and get their professional opinion.

Your lungs are vital to the function of the rest of your body. As you breathe in and out your lungs are performing key processes that keep each and every organ working. To keep them healthy be cognizant of your indoor air quality, the types of products you’re using in your home, avoid cigarette smoke by all means, and visit your doctor annually!

Today's Guest Blog Post is from Brook Spencer, she is the Community Outreach Director at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. Their mission is to provide information on mesothelioma, a very rare but preventable cancer caused by asbestos exposure. Brook’s focus is on raising online community awareness.

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