November is National Lung Cancer Awareness Month and Cook County Health (CCH) would like to remind everyone of ways to keep their lungs healthy.

Although your lungs are extremely resilient organs, it’s important you protect your lungs from environmental factors, as there are a number of chronic diseases that can result from exposure to particulate matter and pollution.

There are many things you can do to keep your lungs healthy and disease-free.

Don’t Smoke

  • Avoiding consumption of tobacco smoke is a helpful way for you to keep your lungs healthy. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cigarette smoking causes more than 480,000 deaths each year in the United States. Smoking causes about 90% of all lung cancer deaths.
  • Every time you smoke a cigarette, you inhale thousands of chemicals into your lungs. Not only are these damaging, they increase mucus, making it more difficult to clean themselves.
  • Smoking damages your lungs and your other organs. In current smokers, chronic lung disease represents 73% of smoking-related ailments, and in smokers who have quit smoking, chronic lung conditions account for 50% of smoking-related conditions. Refraining from smoking is the best way to prevent emphysema and lower your risk of getting cancer.

Avoid Lung Hazards

  • One of the best ways to keep your lungs healthy is to limit your exposure to environmental pollutants. Your exposure to indoor and outdoor air pollution can result in health problems, such as headaches, asthma symptoms and even heart attacks in people with certain pre-existing heart diseases, especially if you already have a lung disease.
  • Smog is one of the worst outdoor pollutants that can affect your health. Other outdoor air pollutants include carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter.
  • There are two principle categories of indoor air pollutants: biological pollutants, such as mold spores, and chemical pollutants, such as paints, radon and household cleaners. Minimizing your exposure to indoor and outdoor air pollutants and minimizing your outdoor exercise when there are smog alerts, will help keep your lungs healthy.

Maintain A Healthy Lifestyle

  • Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is an important step in preventing lung diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD). Aerobic exercise helps improve your lung capacity.
  • Proper diet, in conjunction with the proper amount and type of exercise suggested by your primary care provider, will keep your muscles in good working order and your heart and lungs well fueled with oxygen, which are important considerations for anybody interested in keeping their lungs healthy, not just people with COPD.
  • Staying hydrated helps the mucosal lining in the lungs thin, which enable them to function better.

For more information regarding the CCH Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program click here.