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The Respiratory System, and how to keep it youthful
The respiratory system is a collection of organs and tissues that acquire and transport oxygen throughout the body while also removing waste gases such as carbon dioxide.
The respiratory system includes the: nose and nasal cavity, sinuses, mouth, throat (pharynx), voice box (larynx), windpipe (trachea), diaphragm, lungs, bronchial tubes/bronchi, bronchioles, air sacs (alveoli) and the capillaries. Inhalation and exhalation are two steps in the breathing process: the body takes in oxygen during inhalation and exhales carbon dioxide through exhalation. Upon inhalation, the air will reach passageways called bronchioles as they move through the lungs. The bronchioles finish in alveoli, which are small balloon-like air sacs. There are around 600 million alveoli in the lungs. A mesh of microscopic blood arteries called capillaries surrounds the alveoli. In this area, oxygen from breathed air enters the bloodstream. The blood returns to the heart after obtaining oxygen, and the heart then circulates the blood throughout the body, delivering it to the cells, tissues and organs. When cells consume oxygen, they produce carbon dioxide, which enters the bloodstream. Upon exhalation, the blood takes the carbon dioxide back to the lungs, where it is eliminated from the body. The diaphragm, a big dome-shaped muscle behind the lungs, aids in the breathing process. The diaphragm pushes lower when we breathe in, generating a vacuum that forces air into the lungs. Upon exhalation, the diaphragm relaxes upward, pressing on the lungs to deflate them.
The respiratory system has mechanisms in place to prevent dangerous substances from entering the lungs. Large particles are filtered out by the hairs of the nose. Cilia, or tiny hairs, move in a sweeping motion along the air passages to keep them clean. Mucus, a slime-like material, is produced by cells in the trachea and bronchial tubes, which keeps air passageways wet and helps keep dust, germs, viruses, and allergy-causing substances out of the lungs. Mucus might bring up items from deeper locations of the lungs, and these can finally be coughed up.
The ageing respiratory system
As people get older their respiratory systems become less efficient. Respiratory muscles lose strength, lung tissues lose flexibility, the alveolar surface area decreases, and lung capacity decreases. Because the coughing reflex and ciliary escalator function deteriorate with age, the respiratory system becomes less capable of expelling inhaled irritants and germs. Both community- and hospital-acquired respiratory tract infections have an age component. Elderly people should therefore be encouraged to monitor their respiratory health.
The diaphragm and muscles between the ribs, which are used for breathing, will weaken during ageing. Muscular loss is more common among immobile people or those who live a sedentary lifestyle, as inactivity promotes muscle wasting and weakening. In the lungs, the number of air sacs (alveoli) and capillaries decreases. As a result, significantly less oxygen is absorbed from inhaled air. The lungs also gradually lose their elasticity. While these changes may have little effect on ordinary daily activities in people who do not smoke or have a lung disease, they can make exercise more difficult and breathing can be more difficult at high altitudes where there is less oxygen. The lungs also become less capable of fighting infections, partially due to a decrease in the ability of the cells that sweep debris containing microorganisms out of the airways. Respiratory tract infections (RTIs) are more common as people become older, mainly due to reduced clearance of particulate material and mucus, reduced coughing reflex, increased likelihood of mucus accumulating in the airway. Respiratory tract infections caused by viruses are more prevalent in the winter, and the elderly are at the highest risk of infection. Hospital-acquired (nosocomial) pneumonia is also more common among the elderly, and the risk rises correspondingly with the duration of stay.
Our lungs are susceptible to a variety of diseases caused by rising pollution levels, climate changes, chemical exposure, or harmful microbes. About 4 million people die each year as a result of respiratory illnesses. Even in the context of the COVID19 pandemic, the virus affects the respiratory system in a life-threatening way. Smoking, which can also lead to lung cancer, is another reason why lungs are more susceptible to airborne infectious agents. However, there are ways to maintain healthy lungs by adopting a healthy lifestyle and including foods in your diet that boost your immunity.
Maintaining a healthy respiratory system
Stop smoking, and avoid second hand smoke and air pollutants.
Consume foods rich in antioxidants.
Get vaccinations like the COVID-, flu- and the pneumonia vaccines.
Exercise frequently as this can help your lungs to function properly.
Improve indoor air quality using HEPA filter systems.
Deep Breathing Lung Exercise Devices
People who smoke or are regularly exposed to air pollution, and people with chronic respiratory illnesses like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and cystic fibrosis may benefit from lung cleansing procedures. It is critical to keep the lungs healthy in order to keep the rest of the body healthy. The lungs are self-cleaning organs that will begin to repair themselves once they are no longer exposed to toxins, such as when a person stops smoking. For example, a person's chest may feel full, congested, or irritated after being exposed to pollutants, such as cigarette smoke. This is often due to mucus that builds up in the lungs to trap bacteria and pollutants. One can ease chest congestion by using specific methods to rid the lungs of mucus and the irritants. Some of these techniques may also help to open up the airways, increase lung capacity, and reduce inflammation, all of which can assist to reduce the effects of pollution and smoke on the lungs.
Steam therapy. Inhaling water vapor to widen the airways and help the lungs clear mucus is known as steam treatment or steam inhalation. In cold or dry air, people with lung diseases may find that their symptoms intensify. The mucosal membranes of the airways might become dry and limit blood flow in this climate. Steam, on the other hand, gives warmth and moisture to the air, which can aid with breathing and loosening mucus in the airways and lungs. Inhaling water vapor can help patients breathe more easily and provide immediate comfort. A small study with people suffering from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a lung disease that makes it difficult to breathe, found that steam therapy reduced cardiac and respiratory rates.
Controlled coughing. Coughing is the body's natural method of releasing pollutants and microbes trapped in the mucus. Coughing loosens excessive mucus in the lungs and sends it up the airways to be expelled. One way to clear the lungs of excess mucus is the following: Sit back in a chair and relax your shoulders, keeping both feet flat on the floor. Slowly inhale through the nose while folding the arms over the stomach. Exhale slowly while bending forward and pressing your arms towards your stomach. Exhale slowly and cough twice or three times while keeping your mouth slightly open. Inhale slowly through your nose. As needed, take a break and repeat.
Lung draining. Mucus can be drained from the lungs with various techniques. Postural drainage is lying in various postures to allow mucus to flow out from the lungs using gravity. This technique can enhance breathing and aid in the treatment or prevention of lung infections. Depending on the position, different postural drainage methods can be used:
1. Place yourself on the floor or in a bed. Place pillows under the hips to keep the chest from rising above the hips. Inhale slowly through your nose and exhale slowly through your mouth. 1:2 breathing means that each exhale should be twice as long as the inhale. Keep going for a few minutes.
2. Lie on one side with your head resting on an arm or a pillow. Pillows should be placed beneath the hips. Practice breathing in a 1:2 ratio. Keep going for a few minutes. Repeat on the opposite side.
3. Place a pillow stack on the floor. Lie down on your stomach with your stomach over the pillows. Remember to maintain your hips higher than your chest. For further support, fold the arms under the head. Practice breathing in a 1:2 ratio for a few minutes.
Regular exercise can enhance people's physical and mental health while also lowering their risk of developing a variety of diseases. Exercise makes the muscles work harder, which raises the body's breathing rate, allowing more oxygen to reach the muscles. It also enhances circulation, allowing the body to remove the excess carbon dioxide produced during exercise. Muscles will also adapt to use oxygen more efficiently and create less carbon dioxide as a result of this training. People with chronic lung diseases can benefit from regular exercise, but those with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, cystic fibrosis, or asthma should seek medical advice before a new exercise routine.
RMT (respiratory muscle training) has been found to be a useful ergogenic aid in sports performance. Running, cycling, swimming, and rowing are just a few of the exercise modalities where RMT has been shown to boost performance.
Foods and supplements that enhance the health of the respiratory system
Green tea, which is high in polyphenols, contains anti-inflammatory compounds that may aid to reduce lung inflammation. Green tea was found to have a strong impact in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). A study discovered that consuming two cups of green tea every day lowers the risk of COPD.
Mint has long been used to alleviate respiratory problems. Mint was employed by many civilizations for its therapeutic properties. A cup of hot peppermint tea will help you get rid of a sore throat by breaking up the mucus and inflammation caused by lung infections.
Ginger has long been known for its anti-inflammatory characteristics, which aid in the removal of pollutants from the respiratory tract. It is one of the most commonly used home remedies for cough and cold. Potassium, magnesium, beta-carotene, and zinc are among the vitamins and minerals found in it. Certain ginger extracts have also been shown to kill lung cancer cells. Simply drinking a healthy ginger tea is an effective approach to boost immunity and prevent seasonal flu and illnesses.
Honey, which is rich in beneficial natural products, is recognized for its antibacterial and antiviral characteristics, which assist to alleviate the discomfort caused by respiratory infections. A single dose of honey given 30 minutes before bedtime has been shown to relieve cough and to assist with sleep problems.
Garlic includes a component known as allicin, which acts as an antibiotic and aids in the treatment of respiratory infections that clog our lungs and cause dyspnea and congestion. It also aids in the reduction of inflammation, the improvement of asthma, and the prevention of lung cancer.
Turmeric consumption on a daily basis can aid in the reduction of airway inflammation. Turmeric contains a compound called curcumin, which aids in the natural cleansing of the lungs and detoxification of the body, as well as the boosting of immunity.
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