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Last updated on January 31st, 2024 at 11:13 am
Keeping your lungs healthy is one of the most important things you can do for your body and overall health.
Our lungs play a crucial role in keeping us strong; like all parts of the body, our lungs require care to remain functioning at their best.
Table of Contents
What causes low lung capacity?
There is not one specific cause for a lower lung capacity; as we age, it can cause a natural decline as the diaphragm becomes weaker. Lung tissue can also weaken, decreasing the size of our airways. Other reasons for low lung capacity are respiratory conditions; these include:
Symptoms of low lung capacity include:
- Chest tightness
- Chest Pain
- Shortness of breath
How to increase lung capacity
Various breathing or lung exercises and lifestyle adjustments help improve your lung capacity. Here are our top ten breathing exercises:
1. Deep breathing
Taking regular deep breaths can help keep your lungs healthy. It’s that simple! Try standing up with your back arched, breathing in and holding your breath for 10 seconds and slowly exhale.
2. Staying active
Many sportsmen and women use breathing exercises to improve their overall sports performance. Exercising regularly is one of the best ways to improve your lung capacity. When you exercise, your lungs circulate more oxygen and remove carbon dioxide faster. Muscle-strengthening activities and aerobics (walking and running) give your heart and lungs a workout to function properly.
3. Diaphragmatic breathing (belly breathing)
Diaphragmatic breathing is when you concentrate on lowering your diaphragm when you breathe in. Many professional singers use this technique to increase their lung capacity.
4. Staying hydrated
Drinking plenty of water helps thin out the mucus lining your airways and lungs. Dehydration affects almost every part of your body, especially your lungs. Not giving your body enough fluid can impact your breathing and cause respiratory distress.
5. Pursed lip breathing
Pursed lip breathing is one of the easiest ways to control shortness of breath, quickly slowing your breathing and bringing more oxygen to your lungs.
Laughter is one of the best medicines for your lungs, and it is similar to having an internal massage and exercising your lungs. When we laugh, our diaphragm contracts, strengthening our lung capacity.
Sitting tall with your shoulders back gives your lungs more room, opening the front of your body and making breathing more comfortable.
8. Stop smoking
We are all aware of the implications of smoking. Smoking damages the lungs and can lead to conditions such as lung cancer. The comparison between healthy lungs vs smokers’ lungs is vast, and it is one of the main reasons for a lower lung capacity.
9. Get enough vitamin D
Did you know higher vitamin D levels are associated with better lung function? You can gain sufficient vitamin D from sunshine or certain foods; these include egg yolks, oily fish and red meat.
10. Avoid air pollution
Pollutants can irritate your lungs and respiratory system; a way to avoid contaminants at home is by keeping it clean, well ventilated and avoiding smoking indoors. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), exposure to air pollution causes 4.2 million deaths every year(1).
Nebuliser machines for low lung capacity
A nebuliser delivers a high dose of medication quickly into the lungs to treat many respiratory conditions, including COPD, emphysema and asthma.
How to clean your lungs
Cleaning your lungs can help when exposed to irritants, such as air pollution and tobacco smoke. Cleansing your lungs can also help if you suffer from a respiratory condition. Here are a few simple ways to clear your lungs:
- Steam therapy: Steam inhalation involves inhaling water vapour to open your airways, loosen mucus, and relieve other cold and flu symptoms. During colder months, it is one of the best ways to moisten the mucous membrane and help blood flow.
- Draining mucus from your lungs: Lying in different positions and controlling your breathing can help alleviate mucus from your lungs. Alternatively, you can control your coughing to help clear your lungs; this is specifically helpful to those suffering from COPD and Emphysema.
- Green tea: Green tea contains antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation and irritation in your lungs. A study found that consuming two cups of green tea daily reduced the risk of developing COPD (2).
- Anti-inflammatory foods: Certain foods can reduce inflammation, make breathing easier and help with congestion. Some of these anti-inflammatory foods include turmeric, walnuts, olives and lentils.
Nasal Irrigation for better airflow
Nasal irrigation is a technique used to flush out the nasal passages with a saline solution. While nasal irrigation primarily targets the nasal cavity and sinuses, it can indirectly benefit the lungs by promoting better respiratory health.
How allergies affect your lungs
Allergies can affect the lungs, particularly when they trigger respiratory symptoms. When a person with an allergy inhales or comes into contact with an allergen, their immune system releases chemicals such as histamine. These chemicals can cause inflammation and irritation in the respiratory system, leading to the following effects on the lungs:
Allergic Rhinitis: Also known as hay fever, allergic rhinitis primarily affects the nose and sinuses but can also have secondary effects on the lungs. When allergens are inhaled, they can cause nasal congestion, sneezing, and itching. Consider a nasal wash such as the SinuPulse Elite to cleanse your sinuses and reduce discomfort.
Asthma: Allergies are a common trigger for asthma symptoms. When allergens, such as pollen, dust mites, or pet dander, enter the airways, they can cause the muscles around the air passages to tighten, resulting in difficulty breathing, wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath. Using a nebuliser can help relax the muscles in your airways and relieve asthma symptoms.
How to check your lungs are healthy at home
If you constantly feel short of breath and are worried, you could suffer from a respiratory condition. If you wake up tired, choke in your sleep, or snore, you could have Sleep Apnoea. This sleep disorder causes you to stop breathing during sleep as your airways become blocked.
It takes time to see a notable difference, but persevering with lifestyle adjustments can help your lungs reap the benefits.
Managing your lifestyle choices and treatment methods can help improve your lung capacity and minimise the risk of developing respiratory conditions. If you think you could have Sleep Apnoea take our In-Home Sleep Test or contact us for more advice.
- World Health Organisation, Air Pollution. Available at: https://www.who.int/health-topics/air-pollution#tab=tab_1. Accessed June 2023.
- Oh CM, Oh IH, Choe BK, Yoon TY, Choi JM, Hwang J (2018). Consuming Green Tea at Least Twice Each Day Is Associated with Reduced Odds of Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease in Middle-Aged and Older Korean Adults. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29378037/. Accessed June 2023.