Smoking is by far the most common cause of lung damage, but it’s not the only cause. Up to 30% of COPD cases occur in people who have never smoked before. So just what is damaging their lungs? There are a range of hazards that can be responsible from household mold to chemical fumes. As a non-smoker, it’s important to still be wary of these hazards so that your lungs don’t get damaged. This post explains more on how to look after your lungs as a non-smoker.
Check your home’s indoor air quality
There are many potential toxins that can get into our home’s air and cause lung damage. These include radon, asbestos, VOCs, carbon monoxide and mold. Some of these toxins are possible to detect at home by installing alarms (like carbon monoxide alarms) or buying test kits (like radon test kits). However, the best solution is often to invest in professional air quality testing. This will determine how clean the air in your home is and whether you need to take actions such as improving ventilation and removing substances.
Keep on top of mold
Mold isn’t just unpleasant to look at – it can cause severe breathing problems if you don’t tackle it. If you breathe in too much mold, you can develop a fungal lung infection known as aspergillosis. You can remove mold from your home using mold sprays or organic solutions. Keep your home well ventilated, reducing moisture and letting in sunlight can reduce further mold growth.
Don’t mix cleaning chemicals
Many cleaning solutions are not designed to be mixed. The ingredients in two or more cleaning solutions could react and produce toxic fumes. Bleach is a particularly dangerous chemical – the fumes of bleach alone can irritate your lungs, however when mixed with other chemicals these fumes could cause even more damage.
Exercise encourages us to take deep fast breaths, which can help expel any contaminants from deep within our lungs. People who do not exercise often are more likely to experience lung infections because bacteria, viruses and fungi are allowed to settle at the bottom of our lungs. Make sure that you’re leading a physically active lifestyle.
Be careful of second-hand smoke
Second-hand smoke can be as deadly as first-hand smoke. There are tales of entertainers such as Roy Castle who developed lung cancer despite never smoking a cigarette in his life, simply because he was constantly around other people smoking. If you have friends or family members who smoke, you should try to encourage them to not smoke around you, or at least not indoors.
Spot the signs of a chest infection
Chest infections can cause damage to your lungs, increasing the risk of more dangerous respiratory problems such as pneumonia and lung cancer. Treating infections early reduces the damage caused by them – a dose of antibiotics may be all that’s needed. A persistent cough, wheezing and chest pain are all telltale signs.
When in doubt, wear a mask
There are many situations where a face mask can protect you from breathing in dangerous substances. When working in areas that are dusty or full of dangerous fumes, a mask can help protect you. When travelling through heavily polluted areas, a face mask can also protect you. If you think there could be a risk of causing damage to your lungs and it’s causing you concern, don’t hesitate to put a mask on. Make sure that the mask is suited to the situation.