Celebrate Your Lungs

Nurse Koutsoheras

One of the great health topics to celebrate each October is healthy lungs. Most of us have two lungs that sit on either side of our chests. The right lung has three lobes, and the left lung has two lobes. The lungs are part of the respiratory system that helps you to breath. Breathing is important. Every cell in our body needs oxygen to survive, and as the cells use oxygen, carbon dioxide is created. Our lungs allow oxygen from the air to be breathed in (inhalation) and then the carbon dioxide from the body to be breathed out (exhalation). In addition to gas exchange, the lungs bring the air you breathe to body temperature and the proper humidity level. The lungs protect the body from harmful substances by using a filtering system. Inside the lungs are bronchial tubes that are lined with cilia, which are like very small hairs that move in a wavy motion. This movement carries mucus that traps dust and germs to your throat where it is coughed, sneezed or swallowed. Very useful, I think.

Healthy lungs are elastic so that they can expand and contract as you breathe. Normal lung capacity is roughly 4-6 liters, and adults breathe roughly 12-20 breaths per minute, that’s 17,280-23,040 per day! As we age, our lungs naturally become less elastic, and with all the work they do each day, it is of utmost importance that we take care of them.  One simple thing you can do is to take deep breaths more often. This will help increase your lung capacity and get more oxygen into the blood stream. Using good posture allows your lungs the space they need to fully inflate. Try leaning back and pushing out your chest to stretch and give your lungs extra room. Physical activity that leaves you slightly short of breath is great for the health of your lungs, and staying hydrated helps keep the mucus in the lungs thin. Thick mucus can lead to infections. One last simple suggestion that is just fantastic all around, is to laugh. Laughing is great for the lungs! Laughing forces stale air from the lungs and gives your abdomen and diaphragm a workout. Who doesn’t need that? Have a great day, and a great laugh, your lungs will thank you!