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3 Helpful Tips to Protect Your Lungs

June 28, 2019 4:00 pm
Published by: Dr. Ann Lovick

We live with pollution in Phoenix every day.  During fire season, we are exposed to even more toxins in the atmosphere.

When we breathe polluted air, the particles in the air can irritate and damage our lungs.  The Air Quality Index (AQI) measures the pollution levels in the air and determines if the air is good or unhealthy or just unsafe for sensitive groups.  Anyone with a preexisting condition such as asthma or COPD should take note of the AQI and consider limiting their time out doors on days when it reaches unhealthy levels.

What can we do to protect our lungs from harmful pollution?

1.) N Acetyl Cysteine  Studies show that pollutants such as cigarette smoke reduce glutathione in the lungs.  Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant in the body and its job is to reverse oxidative damage caused by foreign particles in the lungs.  N Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) is an amino acid that, when taken orally, helps the body maintain healthy glutathione levels.

2.) Essential Fatty Acids  Your respiratory tract is lined with mucous membranes – from your nose to the base of your lungs.  These membranes trap toxins and other particles carried on the air we breathe. It is important to keep these membranes well hydrated so that they can do their job and protect you from getting sick. Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) found in fish, chia seeds, and walnuts hydrate the mucous membranes in your respiratory tract.  Fish oil supplements are a great way to get higher doses of EFAs to support your respiratory tract.

3.) HEPA air filter  Phoenix is one of the top three cities with the worst air quality with an average AQI of 84.  If moving out of the metroplex is not an option, consider getting an air purifier with a HEPA air filter in your bedroom.  This will filter out the small particles in the air that are big enough to irritate the lungs, but small enough to avoid being trapped by the mucous membranes.

Be aware that if you smoke cigarettes or if you vape, your lungs are not “accustomed” to smoke and therefore handle it better.  Smokers are actually at greater risk because they are damaging their lungs every day and therefore their lungs are more susceptible to damage from pollution.

If you are a smoker, please ask your doctor for help quitting.  If you are planning to go on vacation this summer, check the AQI of your favorite vacation spot to see if it is safe for you and your family.  Stay healthy and enjoy your summer!