5 Tips for Better Respiratory Hhealth

December 23, 2015

Respiratory issues are among the top health concerns for seniors. The National Institutes of Health noted older adults are at an increased risk for certain lung-related conditions and illnesses, such as shortness of breath, pneumonia, low oxygen levels, and bronchitis. Because of the heightened hazard of breathing issues, seniors may benefit from using the following tips to improve their respiratory health:


1. Complete a Lung Function Test

Doctors use lung function tests to understand the cause of a breathing problem. The results allow the physician to diagnose the condition. For instance, your healthcare team may realize that your shortness of breath results from asthma and can then prescribe the appropriate treatment plan.


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The NIH noted that these tests evaluate the strength of your breathing muscles, how much air you take in and release, your breathing pace, and your lungs’ ability to deliver blood and oxygen to the rest of the body. If you are concerned about your breathing patterns, speak with your doctor about undergoing a lung function test.

2. Avoid Secondhand Smoke

While research has linked cigarette smoking and poor respiratory health, secondhand smoke may cause similar side effects. A review published in the Journal of Environmental Science and Health analyzed studies about the impact of indoor air pollution on seniors. By looking at 33 studies, researchers found that one relationship in particular stood out: the connection between exposure to secondhand smoke and the occurrence of COPD.

According to the COPD Foundation, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a catch-all phrase for certain lung diseases. The condition causes wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and difficulty breathing. While you can’t necessarily reverse long-term exposure to secondhand smoke, avoiding it as much as possible is essential to prevent the toxins from worsening your respiratory health. To do this, the Mayo Clinic advised seniors to turn to smoke-free assisted living communities and not allow passengers to smoke in their vehicles while driving.

Sign made of smoke crossing out cigarette.Protect your lungs from secondhand smoke.


3. Exercise

Staying physically active is important for overall well-being, but it has extra benefits for respiratory health. Squeezing in regular workouts during your weekly routine can prevent and improve lung issues.

Always check with your physician before beginning a new workout regimen, and if you’re starting, remember to work your way up. Consider joining an exercise class in your assisted living community. The trained staff members will walk you through the proper technique for each exercise. Otherwise, start walking around the neighborhood. This low-intensity activity is a great way to ease your body and lungs into exercising.

Edgewood residents participating in exercise class.Participate in group exercise classes in your assisted living community.


4. Take Care of Yourself

Even minor illnesses like the common cold can seriously affect your respiratory health. The flu may damage your lungs and overall well-being even more, so staving off these ailments with proper hygiene and health practices is essential.

Before flu season, consider getting a flu shot at your doctor’s office or local pharmacy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised that seniors receive the Fluzone High-Dose influenza vaccine, explicitly designed for adults 65 and older. The product contains more antigens to compensate for seniors’ weaker immune systems.

You can also prevent illnesses with the following tips:


5. Eat a Healthy Diet

Consuming foods rich in vitamins and nutrients boosts your immune system and enhances your respiratory health. The British Lung Foundation noted that eating a well-balanced diet helps you manage your weight, which benefits your lungs. The BFL explained that starchy carbohydrates, like those found in pasta and potatoes, give your body the energy to breathe and stay active. Meanwhile, fruits and vegetables help your lungs fight infections, and protein strengthens your breathing muscles.

Don’t let this common age-related health issue stop you from living a fulfilling and active retirement lifestyle. Use these preventative measures and follow any doctor-prescribed treatment regimens.

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