It is a known fact that smoking is one, if not the most common, cause of sakit sa baga or respiratory diseases. These diseases span from benign conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) to life-threatening illnesses such as lung cancer. Fortunately, smoking is an easily modifiable factor in the development of these conditions. Chronic smokers who have successfully quit smoking can get a chance to regain optimal lung function as long as they work on keeping their lungs healthy.
If you used to be a chronic smoker and have just quit smoking, you might be wondering what you can do to keep your lungs healthy and disease-free. Here are some easy and helpful tips to bear in mind:
- Keep your environment clean
One of the best and most practical ways to keep your lungs healthy after quitting smoking is to maintain the cleanliness of your home and your work area. Sweep your floors and dust off your carpets and rugs regularly. Clean your fans, air vents, and air conditioning units at least once every month. Doing these will help keep the circulating air free from dust particles that are harmful to your lungs.
- Avoid exposure to secondhand smoke
Even after you’ve quit smoking, you can still get exposed to toxic substances such as cigarette smoke or fumes. Try your best to stay away from them, but if you really can’t, cover your mouth with tissue or a handkerchief to limit your exposure. Avoiding other smokers will not only keep your lungs free from second-hand smoke, but it will also keep you away from the temptation of smoking again.
- Eat foods that are healthy for the lungs
Research has shown that particular foods can help boost lung function and reduce the damage caused by chronic smoking. For example, vitamin C, which is found in fruits and vegetables like papaya and broccoli, scavenges free radicals that are toxic to the lungs. Foods that are high in magnesium such as nuts, legumes, and cereal grains also keep the lungs healthy by opening up the airways and allowing oxygen to flow easily.
- Do regular physical activities
One way to improve lung function is to have a regular physical activity. When you exercise, the blood flow to your lungs increases. Over time, your lungs will be able to supply oxygen to the rest of your body more efficiently. This would improve not only your lung function, but your overall strength and endurance as well.
- Do deep breathing exercises
Diaphragmatic breathing and pursed lip breathing are two breathing techniques you can try to help you breathe more easily after quitting smoking. Diaphragmatic breathing strengthens your diaphragm and allows you to use less effort to breathe. Pursed lip breathing, on the other hand, helps keep your airways open and releases trapped air in the lungs, allowing you to breathe more comfortably. You can practice diaphragmatic breathing and pursed lip breathing by inhaling through your nose for a couple of seconds and then allow the air to move from your nose down to your abdomen. Afterwards, slowly exhale through pursed lips as if blowing something out and repeat the process.
- Stay hydrated
Staying hydrated is one of the easiest ways to boost lung function and protect your lungs from infections. Drinking warm water can help keep the mucus in your airways thin, which makes it easier to clear when you cough. It will also keep your airways warm and moist, which will help you breathe more easily. By drinking at least 8 cups of water daily, you can keep your lungs healthy.
- Practice regular handwashing
Handwashing with soap and water is a critical step in preventing microbial transmission, which can potentially affect your lungs and lead to respiratory infections. Wash your hands before and after getting in close contact with a person who exhibits respiratory symptoms such as colds and cough. If soap and water is not available, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol can be a good substitute.
- Buy air-purifying plants
Scientists from NASA have discovered that there are plenty of indoor plants that can absorb harmful toxins from air circulating in enclosed spaces with little ventilation. Not only do they add beauty to your living area, these so-called “air-purifying” plants also improve the air quality in your home, making sure that you breathe in air that’s a bit purer and help keep your lungs healthy. Some examples of air-purifying plants include English Ivy, snake plant, aloe vera, and spider plant.
- Have a regular check-up
Even after you’ve successfully quit smoking, it would still be prudent to go for regular check-ups with your physician. During your check-up, your physician will assess your lung function and see if it’s improving. They will also be able to detect other possible lung diseases that would otherwise go unnoticed.
Deciding to quit smoking is the best thing you could ever do to improve your lung health. But remember, it is just the first step. Keeping your lungs healthy is a lifelong commitment that does not stop after you’ve quit smoking. By following the tips above, you can regain ideal lung function and keep your lungs working the way you want them to.