Step 2. Don’t smoke
It should come as no surprise that to improve your lungs, you’ll need to avoid smoking. After all, the habit is notoriously terrible for your lungs. Smoking can damage the lungs and prevent appropriate oxygen uptake into the bloodstream, says Dr Anwar.
Cigarettes aren’t the only lung destroyers (though they’re certainly high on the list). Dr Parikh suggests avoiding other pollutants, like marijuana smoke, as well. Smoking is a risk factor for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, a progressive, chronic lung disease that causes shortness of breathe, fatigue, and wheezing. (Emphysema is a type of COPD.) Just under 400 million people globally were diagnosed with COPD in 2019, although millions more might have it but don’t know it.
Step 3. Get vaccinated
Viral and bacterial pneumonia can permanently scar and damage your lungs, according to Dr Parikh. There are many different types of vaccines that can help protect your lungs from potentially damaging infections, including Covid-19. “Many young, [otherwise] healthy Covid-19 patients needed lung transplants,” she says. “Vaccines will prevent this.”
Other vaccines protect against pneumonia (PCV13 and PPSV23 protect children and adults against pneumococcal bacteria), pertussis (whooping cough), and tuberculosis. And getting your yearly flu shot is also a good idea to avoid respiratory infections. Safeguard your health and get your Covid-19 vaccine.
Step 4. See your doctor for any issues
If you suffer from airborne allergies, get tested, diagnosed, and treated by an allergist, Dr Parikh says. “Most asthmatics and allergy sufferers are living with uncontrolled disease, which is dangerous, as it leaves your lungs inflamed, scarred, and in some cases can be deadly,” she says. Persistent nasal congestion and shortness of breath are two more good reasons to visit your doctor.
This article first appeared on Reader’s Digest.