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October 2022

We rarely think about breathing and take our lungs for granted until we have difficulty breathing. Most of us pay little attention to how hard our lungs work to keep us breathing while we work, play, exercise and sleep without us being aware of it. Our lungs are responsible for this essential natural function that gets oxygen into the bloodstream so that it can be delivered to the cells of our body. During a normal day, we breathe nearly 25,000 times. While we mostly inhale air we also inhale oxygen and nitrogen, small amounts of other gases, floating bacteria and viruses. The air we breathe also contains the products of tobacco smoke, automobile exhaust, pet dander and other pollutants from the atmosphere in varying amounts. These pollutants can affect our lungs in many ways. They may simply cause irritation and discomfort. But despite the lungs own mechanical and biological barriers sometimes inhaled materials can also cause illness or death.

Lung disease affects a large number of our population. Annually, approximately 10 million people are diagnosed with chronic bronchitis, 25 million with asthma, 16 million with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and over 150,000 die from lung cancer.

To reduce your risk for lung cancer and other respiratory conditions, here are some of the best ways to keep your lungs healthy.

Prevent Illness - A cold or respiratory infection can be serious. The best way to avoid complications is to prevent the illness in the first place. While not all viruses can be avoided, you can reduce your risk for getting sick by washing your hands, avoiding crowded places, social distancing, wearing a mask and getting your vaccinations. Exercise Regularly - Regular physical exercise makes your lungs stronger. When you're active, your heart and lungs work harder to supply oxygen to the muscles. This makes your heart and lungs stronger and more efficient at getting oxygen into the bloodstream. You should aim for 30 minutes of moderate activity at least 5 days a week.

Quit Smoking and reduce exposure to Secondhand Smoke - According to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer is the number one cause of cancer deaths in both men and women in the United States, and a staggering 85 percent of the lung cancer deaths are due to tobacco use. If you smoke, it's time to quit. Cigarette smoking is the major cause of lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Cigarette smoke can narrow the air passages and make it harder to breathe; thereby, raising your chances for chronic bronchitis and inflamed lung tissue.

Quit Vaping - With vaping remaining popular among young people, many more people are experiencing respiratory problems including fluid buildup in the lungs and pneumonia.

Minimize Exposure to Indoor and Outdoor Pollutants - Pay attention to the weather and local air quality indexes and avoid exercising outside on bad air quality days. If possible, have your home and/or workplace tested for radon levels. Keep air filters clean. Keep your home and car free of cigarette smoke.

Practice breathing exercises - Deep breathing exercises can help strengthen your lungs, allowing them to breathe easier.

Visit Your Doctor Regularly - There's a misconception that only people who smoke get lung cancer, but this is not true. In fact, as many as 20 percent of people in the U.S. with lung cancer have never smoked! Additionally, asbestos-related lung conditions often go unnoticed for decades. It could be life-saving to get screened, as early detection is critical to identifying and beating the disease.

The Medical Associates administrative staff has over ninety years of collective experience in leading health care teams...

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