Lungs. Lungs. Let’s face it, it’s not a nice word really. Sorry, lungs – nothing against you personally, but that’s not a nice word.
It’s also not really a very interesting thing to think about. However, maybe that should change. Maybe the lungs deserve a little love, too. After all, we’re all inundated with articles about how to care for our skin; our heart; our brain. Given how important our lungs are to ensuring we, well, stay alive, maybe they deserve a few thoughts in their direction.
Lung health is something most of us have the luxury of not really thinking about. Unless you have a pulmonary illness, breathing is just something that happens. It’s entirely automatic. Except for right now, when suddenly while reading this you’ve become aware of your breathing – that always happens. But for the most part, you don’t think about your breathing or the health of your lungs – and that’s a problem.
The simple truth is that respiratory conditions are among the biggest killers in the modern world. So why don’t we talk about them more?
It’s definitely time to rectify that. So take a deep breath – pun absolutely and completely intended – and dive right on in.
Air is not equal. It should be, in an ideal world. All air would have the same chemical composition and our lungs would react to it in identical ways. This is not an ideal world.
Air quality is a serious problem in developed countries. For example, London exceeded its air pollution quota for 2017. Okay, fair enough, it’s a huge city with a huge amount of people – that’s probably to be expected, given it’s nearly autumn.
Actually, it exceeded that quota for 2017… on January 5th. This is alarming. Even if you don’t live in London, the rest of the country doesn’t fare so well in terms of air quality either. That means that the air we’re breathing is potentially poisonous, all day, every day. You can check the air quality of where you live using this handy map – but be warned, you’re probably not going to like what you read.
So what can be done about it on a personal level?
- When driving in a city, keep the windows up. If your car has an option to recirculate the air inside the vehicle, use it. It usually looks like this.
- Try and take weekly trips to the countryside, where the air is cleaner.
- Try not to walk outside during rush hour, when the air quality is at its worst.
Smoking & Vaping
If you smoke, you probably know that you need to quit smoking as soon as possible. That’s rarely news to anyone. Doing so is the single best thing you could do for your lungs. For many smokers, the most effective way of quitting smoking is by transitioning to vaping. That’s a good idea; a BBC documentary concluded that vaping is better for you than conventional cigarettes in almost every conceivable way.
There is a sting in the tail to this, however. You need to ensure that your e-liquids are properly sourced; cheap versions from the far east can contain hazardous chemicals. It’s best to stick with a known and trusted supplier, with the likes of Ecigwizard’s e-liquid going through all the necessary checks to ensure the quality. Don’t opt for something cheap; it might have more significant costs in terms of your health.
“Breathe properly?” you’re thinking, reading this subheading to yourself. “What does that mean? I’m alive so clearly I’m breathing just fine, thanks very much…”
Okay, so it sounds ridiculous but… you’re probably not breathing properly. Right now, as you once again have become more aware of your breathing. Sorry about that, by the way. It’s inevitable with information like this.
Most of us have a tendency to breathe in a fairly shallow way, which doesn’t give our lungs and the chance to fully inflate on each inhalation. You also may have a tendency to breathe through your mouth rather than your nose; this is especially likely when exercising.
Learning to breathe properly is beneficial, ensuring your lungs are getting a proper workout at least once per day. Think of it as exercise for your respiratory system.
Candles & Wax Melts
We’ve talked about how bad outdoor air quality can be, but what about indoor air quality? It will often be better than the outdoors – or it should be, unless you mess with it.
How are you messing with your indoor air quality? By using candles, wax melts, and fragrances. These items are ubiquitous in homes, both for their function and the fact they tend to look pretty. The downside is that these products – and their fragrance compositions – can have serious implications for the health of your lungs, especially if you use them on a regular basis.
So do you have to surrender the idea of your home smelling nice just for the sake of your lungs? No, but a few behaviour changes might be beneficial:
- If you have been using a synthetic fragrance, candle, etc. then try and vent the room later in the day. Opening a window is sufficient.
- Don’t use the aforementioned items for more than an hour at a time.
- Try and space your usage. For example, using these items over the weekend and then refreshing the air with open windows is fine. You can then take a break during the week, giving the air quality – and your lungs – some time to recover.
- If you wish to counteract some of the toxins that the aforementioned products can release, it’s worth investigating negative ions. These can help clear chemicals from the air. The easiest ways of introducing negative ions to your home is through Himalayan salt candles/lamps or with pure, natural beeswax candles.
Your lungs deserve some love and attention too. Learn to treat them right and keep them healthy, and you’ll be far better off for a wide variety of reasons. Tweak your lifestyle using the above tips, and you’ll soon be able to breathe easy again.