Medically Reviewed by Minesh Khatri, MD on December 17, 2020

Don't Smoke

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Tobacco smoke can narrow and inflame your airway and make it harder to breathe. It could irritate your lungs and give you a nagging cough. Over time, the smoke destroys tissue. Smoking is the No. 1 cause of lung cancer and the main cause of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a condition that damages the tiny air sacs in your lungs that process oxygen. 

Test Your Home for Radon

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Natural uranium in rock, soil, and water breaks down to make radon gas. You can't smell, touch, or see it, but it's the No. 2 cause of lung cancer. It gets into buildings through cracks and holes in floors and walls, and around plumbing and electrical wire. The radioactive particles damage your lungs when you breathe them in or swallow them. A simple test kit can tell you if you have high levels in your home.

Clean Your Carpets

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It's a good idea to vacuum your carpets three times a week and steam clean them every year. That's because they can trap mold, cockroach droppings, dust mites, dirt, and dust that get into the air and into your lungs. Even the chemicals used to make and install carpet could cause lung problems. If that's too much vacuuming for you, consider hard-surface flooring, like tile or wood, that's easier to keep clean.

Stay Active

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You might already know that exercise helps keep your heart healthy, but it's also good for your lungs. It can even improve the symptoms of some long-term lung conditions. If the gym's not your thing, a walk, jog, or regular tennis game can do the trick. Shoot for about 30 minutes, five times a week. Just make sure to talk to your doctor about your exercise plan if you already have breathing problems. 

Check Your Appliances

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Wherever gas burns, as in certain cooktops, ovens, and space heaters, it makes a chemical called nitrous oxide. This gas can inflame your lungs, make you cough and wheeze, and trigger asthma. You also make it when you burn wood, oil, coal, or kerosene. Make sure your appliances are installed the right way. Do regular maintenance, and pay special attention to how they send waste gases out of the house.

Keep Cockroaches Away

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Their poop and bits of their bodies turn to dust on your floors, sheets, blankets, and furniture. When it gets stirred up into the air, it can trigger allergies and other lung problems. Kids who are in contact with this dust at an early age may be more likely to get asthma. Pest control can help. And try to keep your house as clean and dry as possible, especially fabrics and carpet.

Clean Your Humidifier

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It's just a simple device that puts moisture into the air to help you breathe easier, right? Well, yes. But if you don't clean it, it could develop an airborne fungus that can infect and inflame your lungs. That's why it's important to change filters and do regular maintenance on your humidifier and your air heating and cooling systems, too.

Drink Plenty of Water

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There is a thin lining of mucus inside your lungs. When you get enough water over the course of the day, this lining stays thin, which helps your lungs do their job better. Staying well hydrated is especially important if you have COPD because it makes it easier to cough up the mucus in your lungs that can cause discomfort and breathing problems. 

Do Breathing Exercises

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Out with the old -- air, that is -- and in with the new. That's the basis of breathing exercises designed to help people with lung diseases like asthma and COPD, which can trap stale air and sap the natural springiness of your lungs. "Pursed lip breathing" tries to slow your breaths, and "belly breathing" aims to deepen them, both in and out. Trained experts called pulmonary rehabilitation specialists can help you do them correctly. 

Wash Your Hands

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An airway infection, like a cold, can get into your lungs and cause serious health problems. You can help protect yourself and keep germs away if you wash your hands often with soap and water. Also brush your teeth twice a day, and go to your dentist at least twice a year. Make sure you get the flu vaccine every year. Stay away from school or work when you're sick so that you don't infect others.

Check Your Air Quality

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The Air Quality Index (AQI) tracks pollution that may come from factories, fires, cars, dust, pollen, and other sources on a scale from 0 to 500. Get local levels on the news or check online. Dirty air could affect anyone, but high levels are especially serious for children, adults over 65, and people who are ill. When levels are really high, it's often safer to stay indoors as much as possible.

Laugh More

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It's a great workout for your stomach muscles and helps increase the amount of air your lungs can take in. Much like sports, jogging, or breathing exercises, a good laugh clears out stale air to make room for fresh air that can reach more parts of your lungs. 

Get Regular Checkups

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They're a good way to spot illnesses before they get out of hand. This may be especially important for lung diseases, which might not cause obvious symptoms until they are already far along. Tell your doctor about any changes you notice in the way you breathe. They'll listen to your lungs and might do tests that can help figure out what's going on. 

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