Every breath we take is important for our movement, speaking, and living. The respiratory system is responsible for our breathing, it comprises majorly of three parts namely; the airways, the lungs, and the muscles for breathing. The windpipe is the airways (nose, mouth, throat, and trachea), the lungs are responsible for getting air into the body, the surrounding muscles help in the passage of air through the lungs.
The key functions of the respiratory system include; transporting air into and out of the lungs, protecting the body against particles that are inhaled, and exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. Our lungs keep us alive and well, hence the need to prioritize the health of our respiratory system.
The human body has a natural defence mechanism against dirt and germs, however, there are some important things to do to reduce the risk of diseases of the respiratory system, here are a few ways to take care of your respiratory system:
- Maintain a healthy weight– excess weight generally compresses respiratory muscles and puts more stress on the lungs.
- Drink more water– dehydration will cause the mucus lining the airway to thicken and become sticky making you more prone to illness.
- A healthy diet– consume food that is rich in vitamins and antioxidants, such as fruits, vegetables, and nuts which can help reduce inflammation and fight oxidative damage by oxygen-free radicals.
- Limit your exposure to an allergen– Air pollutants have continually been on the increase, wearing facemasks is good against COVID-19 and air pollutants. It is important to also play your part by disposing of your garbage properly to minimize air pollution.
- Maintain good hygiene– many respiratory viruses are caused by poor hygiene and hand wash. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has not ceased to remind us of some hygiene practices like covering your mouth when coughing, this must however be followed with proper handwashing using soap and running water. Proper use of Personal Protective Equipment and its disposal is important for a healthy respiratory system. The mask should cover the mouth and nose and must be properly disposed of after use.
- Stop alcohol consumption– alcohol dehydrates the body and weakens the immune system.
- Exercise– regular aerobic activities can help your respiratory system, regardless of age, being physically active helps to keep healthy lungs. The American Lung Association has recommended breathing exercise a type of such exercise is pursed-lip breathing. (Breathing in through your nose, then breath out twice as long through your mouth while keeping your lips pursed)
- As much as possible, have indoor plants– plants have been shown to improve air quality.
- Avoid smoking (active or passive)– this decreases the amount of oxygen been distributed throughout the body. Smoking is a major cause of cancer and has been linked to chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases including chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Ensure your home, car, and surroundings are smoke-free as much as possible.
- Laughing-laughing decrease stress and release beneficial hormones inside your body, it also serves as workouts for your respiratory system, as your chest, diaphragm and abdominal muscles tightens, it also brings about deeper breathing.
- Get regular check-ups– lung diseases sometimes go undetected until it becomes serious, regular check-ups help prevent diseases, during a check-up your physician will listen to your breathing, and listen to your concerns.
The respiratory system has a role in overall health, and health begins where we live, learn, work and play, it is important to ensure we take care of our respiratory system.