You can live without a limb, an eye, or a kidney, but your lungs are in the must-have category.
At Rockland Thoracic & Vascular Associates, we help our New York and New Jersey patients take steps to ensure their lungs stay healthy throughout their lifetime.
Here, our experienced thoracic specialists offer their recommendations for healthy habits you can begin today to protect the health of your lungs.
There are some rare conditions that can affect your lungs regardless of how well you care for them.
One example is alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency — when a lack of a certain protein leads to the destruction of lung tissue. Another example is interstitial lung disease, which causes scarring in your lung tissue and may stem from genetic abnormalities, sarcoidosis, or unknown causes.
But most common lung conditions stem from controllable lifestyle and environmental factors. These conditions include:
These conditions significantly reduce the amount of air your lungs can hold and affect your ability to inhale and exhale. They’re also often preventable.
We encourage you to incorporate these tips into your daily habits to give your lungs the best shot at avoiding life-threatening problems.
Avoiding tobacco smoke — both firsthand and secondhand — is the most obvious step toward good lung health. Nicotine damages your lung tissue and puts you at risk for COPD and lung cancer.
Living or working with a smoker puts you in danger, too, as breathing in the smoke they exhale does the same damage to your lungs as it does to theirs. Even if you visit their house or office and they refrain from smoking in your presence, the residue from the tobacco that coats the walls and furniture is toxic.
Just as your muscles get stronger when you lift weights and your brain becomes sharper when you put it to the test, your lungs benefit from regular exercise, too.
Deep breathing exercises that fill your lungs to capacity can boost their function and come with the added benefit of reducing stress and promoting mental health. We can show you how to do it.
Opting to take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator can also strengthen your lungs and keep them healthy.
Nicotine isn’t the only toxin that can damage your lungs. There are airborne chemicals all around you. New York and New Jersey traffic means we breathe in exhaust fumes each time we go outside, but some days are worse than others.
Check the air quality and particulate levels online to see if it’s safe to hang out outdoors.
While general air pollution is unavoidable to a certain extent, there are other types of chemicals you may be able to sidestep by:
Radon gas is invisible and odor-free, and it lurks in soil everywhere. Some areas have higher levels of radon than others, and it can seep into your house and cause severe lung damage.
A simple plug-in meter can keep you abreast of radon levels and alert you when you need to have a professional mitigate the problem.
Dust and pet dander can irritate your lung tissue and lead to problems over time. Dust and vacuum regularly to whisk away the dirt and particles, and replace your air filters frequently. Also, be sure to run your exhaust fan over your range when you cook.
Some lung infections get into your body when they hitch a ride on your hands and then enter through your nose or mouth when you touch those orifices. Keeping your hands clean and germ-free can help you avoid lung infections and other illnesses.
The sooner we diagnose your lung condition, the better your chances of avoiding serious complications and making a full recovery. Here are some signs you may be experiencing a lung problem:
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, come see our lung experts right away. Depending on what we find, your treatment may be as simple as using a bronchodilator to clear your airways or as involved as life-saving lung surgery.
Either way, the first step is to call us or reach out to us online. We have five locations in Washington Heights (Manhattan), Pomona, Goshen, and Fishkill, New York, and Englewood, New Jersey, to serve you.
Our specialists are standing by to ensure your lungs stay healthy and functional for years to come.