Our lungs sustain us through our lives, supplying our bodies with oxygen. In fact, healthy humans breathe about 2,000 gallons of air every day  – that’s a lot of work for our lungs to carry out!  Because of all this inhalation, our lungs are one of the only internal organs with exposure to the outside  environment, it is essential to keep the respiratory system healthy to maintain quality of life and maximize lifespan. With COVID-19 in the forefront of the news right now, respiratory health is more important than ever. This blog is to explain respiratory illness and how to prevent it as much as possible.

Common Respiratory Conditions

Asthma: Asthma causes obstruction in the airways in response to allergens and irritants. More than 2 million senior citizens suffer from asthma in the United States.

Pneumonia: Pneumonia is a lung disease which is the result of an infection in the lung’s air sacs. The infections can be bacterial, viral or fungal. The flu often causes pneumonia. Therefore an annual flu shot may be an effective way to prevent pneumonia.

Lung Cancer: According to the American Cancer Society , lung cancer is the leading cancer across demographics.  Smoking is the predominant cause of lung cancer. It is responsible for 80% of cases, with the rest attributed to secondhand smoke or genetic predisposition.

COPD – Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease : The term COPD encompasses group of diseases which result in  airflow blockage and breathing-related issues. The two most common forms of COPD are bronchitis and emphysema. Most people diagnosed with COPD have both conditions, however, they vary in severity based on the individual.

Indoor Air Pollutants

Poor indoor air quality often contributes to a  greater risk of infections, lung cancer and asthma. Smoking is the leading cause of any respiratory ailment, but individuals who do not smoke (or come in contact with second-hand smoke) may suffer from a range of other irritants.

Asbestos: Asbestos was used as a  building material and in consumer products throughout much of the last 100 years. When asbestos products wear down or erode, it releases microscopic fibers which can travel through the air and be inhaled. This can cause lung irritation, inflammation, mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis.

Dust Mites: Dust mites may seem harmless, but they are responsible for some of the most common indoor allergens. Dust mites are tiny, insect-like pests which create allergens from their body fragments and excrement. Dust mites are prolific and hard to avoid, with 80% of homes in the United States exhibiting detectable levels.

Mold:  A  damp environment can result in visible moisture, whether from leaks or as high humidity. Moisture in homes and apartments establishes the ideal environment for mold spores to grow,  triggering asthma attacks and related respiratory issues.

How To Prevent Respiratory Illness

As we age, our lungs weaken and our rib cage contracts, giving the lungs less room to expand. While considered normal, these changes do necessitate senior citizens taking good care of their respiratory health.

Keep Up to Date on Checkups: Early diagnosis and treatment can significantly benefit a patient with respiratory illness. 

Quit Smoking: The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has declared that tobacco is the leading cause of preventable illness. Just 12 months after quitting tobacco use,  the risk of heart and respiratory diseases drops dramatically.

Maintain a Clean Home: Clean and sanitize the home on a regular basis to decrease allergens. This alone can all but eliminate virus and bacteria growth. A yearly inspection by a professional can guarantee that your home is free from toxins or mold – or remediate the home if they exist.   

Establish an Exercise Routine: Staying active will strengthen the lungs and reduce the impact of respiratory illnesses. Mucus can collect when an individual sits or lies down for extended periods of time, increasing the chance of illness. Keeping active is especially helpful after surgery or illness; while a 30 minute walk everyday will improve strength, balance, coordination – and help to maintain healthy lungs.

At A Banyan Residence, we are committed to the overall health and wellness of all our residents. If you are looking for quality assisted living or memory care facilities in the Venice area, call us today.