As you age, it is important to keep on top of your respiratory health and keep the system as efficient as possible to reduce breathing difficulties and avoid any respiratory diseases.
The lungs main functions are to get oxygen into the bloodstream and remove carbon dioxide from the body. With age, the alveoli within the lungs can lose their shape making it more difficult for gasses to pass through the lungs into the bloodstream. The bones and muscles surrounding the lungs such as the ribcage and abdominals become weaker and cannot assist with the expansion of the lungs as much as they used to, this can cause a reduction in maximum volume within the lungs. Foreign particles are also more likely to make it down your airway into the lungs and cause tissue damage as the nerves in the airways become less sensitive. Finally, the immune system tends to weaken with age as well, increasing the chance of pneumonia and other respiratory infections.
There are several different reasons as to why the respiratory system can decline and as with most things in the body some cannot be helped and other can be changed. The following points are all different ways in which you can keep the lungs as healthy as possible into later life:
The effects of smoking on the respiratory system are well documented and will seriously effect lung health in later life, not to mention the heighten risk of developing cancers. There are also many reports on the dangers of second hand smoke and the impact it can have on the respiratory health of those who are exposed to it, especially young children. Need Help Quitting?
Avoid air pollution:
If it is possible go for walks in green spaces away from busy city/ town centres. Second hand smoke and chemicals in the air can have a big impact on respiratory health. Keep your home well ventilated and consider an air purification system to keep mould from forming and keep clean air circulating throughout your home.
Daily exercise will get the heart pumping and the lungs working. It will promote blood flow and make the whole system stronger. The muscle and bones surrounding the lungs will also become stronger and be able to provide the lungs with better support and protection. Regular exercise will also help regulate abdominal fat, something that can hinder the diaphragms ability to allow the lungs to fully expand. Stronger, healthier lungs will also help protect the body from diseases as well as slowing down certain signs of aging.
Regular visits to the doctor:
Being tested every 6-12 months for diseases and infections could mean you catch a health issue early and give yourself the best possible chances to fight it off. Sleep apnea can also put a real strain on ones respiratory health as it can causes a lack of oxygen from reaching the brain and other organs which can lead to a significantly reduced life expectancy.