Lung health is a crucial aspect of overall well-being, as the lungs play a vital role in the respiratory system, allowing your body to take in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide. Maintaining healthy lungs is essential.
Did you know that the maximum amount of air your lungs can hold—your total lung capacity—is about 6 liters? That is about three large soda bottles. Your lungs mature by the time you are about 20-25 years old. After age 35, it is normal for your lung function to decline gradually as you age. These measurements will likely reduce as you age, even if you are healthy and not a smoker.
How Aging Affects the Respiratory System
It’s normal to start declining lung function due to age. Several things factor into that gradual decline as you add on the years.
- Your diaphragm muscle can get weaker – which sometimes causes shortness of breath. Your rib bones may become thinner and can change shape, making it harder for your lungs to expand and contract.
- Aging also may cause the alveoli – tiny sacs in your lungs where oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange – to become misshapen with time.
- Nerves in the lungs can become less sensitive, leaving the chance for particles to damage the lung tissue.
All these things and more can cause shortness of breath as you age. They can also leave you at a higher risk of respiratory infections. If you have trouble breathing, please see your doctor to address your concerns.
Protecting Your Lungs
While a decline in lung function is average as you get older, there are some things you can do to keep your lungs as healthy as possible.
Don’t Smoke: Smoking is the leading cause of preventable lung diseases, including lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). If you smoke, quitting is the most critical step for your lung health.
Protect Against Environmental Toxins: Minimize exposure to air pollution, chemicals, and toxins in the environment, both indoors and outdoors. Use air purifiers and be mindful of workplace hazards.
Breathing Exercises: Consider practicing deep breathing exercises to improve lung capacity and efficiency. Yoga and meditation techniques can help with this.
Environmental Awareness: Be mindful of indoor air quality. Ensure good ventilation in your home and avoid exposure to indoor pollutants such as mold and dust.
Regular Check-Ups: Schedule regular health check-ups with your healthcare provider. They can assess your lung health, especially if you have a history of lung disease or risk factors.
It’s All About Prevention
If you care for your lungs, they will take care of you. The best thing you can do is keep them in good shape, so your body gets all the oxygen it needs. Lead a healthy lifestyle to keep your lungs functioning in top shape.
Remember that healthy lungs are vital for overall health and quality of life. Taking proactive steps to protect and improve your lung health can have long-term benefits and help you lead a more active and fulfilling life. Consult a healthcare professional for guidance and personalized recommendations if you have concerns about your lung health.