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How COVID-19 pandemic affects the lungs

By:Dushyant Singh Thakur

Like other respiratory syndromes, COVID-19 can cause lasting damage to the lungs. The disease can lead to lung complications such as pneumonia and,in the most severe cases,acute respiratory distress syndrome,or ARDS – a form of lung failure and can be fatal. With ARDS, patients are unable to breathe on their own and may need ventilator support to help circulate oxygen in the body.

According to a report in John Hopkins Medicine, individuals who survive ARDS and recover from COVID-19 may have lasting pulmonary scarring. Another possible complication of COVID-19 is sepsis, which can cause lasting damage to the lungs and other organs

Since COVID-19 primarily targets the lungs, those with preexisting lung problems such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pulmonary fibrosis, etc, are more likely to develop severe symptoms. Yet, whether or not you have a lung condition, it’s important to take precautions to keep your lungs healthy and reduce your risk of infection.

How to take care of your lungs during the COVID-19 pandemic
Adopting healthier habits will help you better maintain your lung health even in times like these. Here are a few tips to keep your lungs healthy and whole:

Exercise:Physical activity plays a vital role in maintaining the health of your lungs.The fact is, exercise can keep your lungs in shape just as it keeps your body in tip-top shape.Exercise makes your heart and lungs stronger.It is recommended to regularly do aerobic exercise that makes you breathe harder.

Generally,it is recommended that adults get at least 30 minutes of physical exercise every day to keep any lung distress at bay-60 minutes for children. Walking, brisk walking, running, cycling,swimming are all good examples of physical exercises to incorporate into your routine.

Breathe deeply:Research suggests that deep breathing, even for just a few minutes, can be beneficial for your lungs.It helps clear the lungs as well as creates a full oxygen exchange.

A small study published in the Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology found that those who performed deep breathing exercises for about 2 to 5 minutes had a significant increase in vital capacity-the maximum amount of air a person could expel from the lungs after a maximum inhalation.Similarly,the American Lung Association agrees that practicing deep breathing exercises can make your lungs more efficient. Doing deep breathing exercises will also reduce stress and anxiety.

Eat well:Eating a well-balanced diet will help you stay healthy and fit,while also preventing infections.Good nutrition will also control your symptoms.According to the British Lung Foundation, you should eat a well-balanced diet consisting of five key food groups to keep you and your lungs healthy.Include these food groups-fruits and vegetables,starchy carbohydrates, protein,dairy foods and oils-in your diet to ensure that you get all nutrients you need to stay healthy and fit.

Don’t smoke or quit smoking:

Smoking not only increases your risk of lung cancer,but also linked to most lung conditions, including asthma and COPD. As per the World Health Organization (WHO),evidence suggests that smoking is linked with increased severity of illness and death in hospitalized COVID-19 patients.

There is no vaccine or specific antiviral agent available to prevent infection with the novel Coronavirus. But adopting healthy habits and adhering to guidelines will keep your lungs healthy and reduce your risk of infection.

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