The BC Lung Association is promoting lung health and hosting a series of community lung health fairs across the province during Lung Month (November annually.)
“Together, in collaboration with our government and community partners, we’re working to support and educate people in taking steps to safeguard their long term lung health,” said Scott McDonald, CEO of the BC Lung Association. “There are important things we can all do to reduce our risk of lung disease, and we want to inform British Columbians of the programs and services that exist to help.”
Here are some tips to help protect and maintain your lungs for life:
1. Avoid smoking, and if you do smoke, try to quit.
Most people who smoke want to quit. But overcoming nicotine addiction can be difficult and often requires multiple quit attempts. The good news is solutions exist proven to help people through the quit process, and you don’t have to quit alone. British Columbians have access to free smoking cessation programs, services and community resources. These include proven prescription and non-prescription medications as well as online, text and phone coaching. When used in combination, they’ve been proven to double a person’s chances of quitting for good.
If you or someone you know wants to quit smoking, visit QuitNow online or call QuitNow toll-free 1.877.455.2233 to learn more.
2. Learn about, and limit your exposure to, harmful air pollutants – indoors and out.
Exposure to harmful air pollutants can cause or worsen heart and lung conditions. Exposure to indoor radon gas, for example, can cause lung cancer. And exposure to smoke (whether from tobacco, wood or wildfire smoke), vehicle exhaust and road dust can cause or aggravate your breathing, particularly for people with pre-existing heart and lung conditions.
Visit RadonAware.ca and learn how simple it is to test your home for radon. Use the Air Quality Health Index to check outdoor pollution levels and reduce or avoid exercising outdoors on poor air quality days. Make your home a smoke‐free zone, and if you use a wood stove for heating, burn smart (don’t burn trash or wet wood). BCAirQuality.ca is also a great place to learn about air pollution and ways to minimize exposure.
3. Be sure to consult your doctor if you’re experiencing breathing difficulties.
Are you short of breath while doing even small chores? Coughing? Wheezing? These may be symptoms of chronic lung disease. Left untreated, COPD can get serious and difficult to treat. But if you’re diagnosed and manage your condition effectively, you can live a full, active life. Also be sure, if you live with a diagnosed lung condition such as asthma or COPD, to check in with your healthcare providers regularly, report changes in symptoms, and take medications as prescribed.
Take the Canadian Lung Health Test to screen yourself for symptoms of COPD. The BC Lung Association recommends if you’re a smoker or ex-smoker over 40 experiencing breathing difficulties such as breathlessness, wheezing or coughing with phlegm, see your doctor and ask for a simple breathing test called spirometry.
4. Arm yourself against influenza. Get your flu and pneumonia shots.
Immunization does more than just protect you; it protects the people around you too. While for most people the flu is a relatively mild illness, it causes thousands of hospitalizations and deaths in Canada each year – particularly for those at highest risk. Look after yourself (and those around you) by getting vaccinated. Wash your hands often, cover your mouth when you cough, and stay home if you’re sick.
Visit ImmunizeBC.ca to find a flu clinic near you. Flu shots are free for BC residents at high risk (people over 65 or with a chronic condition, young children, and pregnant women).
5. Stay active and keep your lung health, and lung conditions, in check.
Exercise is one of the best medicines there is. The more fit you are, the easier it is for your lungs to keep your heart and muscles supplied with oxygen – it can even help keep your lung capacity from getting worse. And for those affected by b
reathing problems, there is a program of exercise, education, and support, called Pulmonary Rehabilitation, specifically designed to teach people living with a chronic lung condition to breathe—and function—at the highest level possible.