Respiratory diseases are very common and are a leading cause of death. It is very easy to damage your lungs without realising!

While there are obvious things that can put you at risk such as smoking heavily or handling asbestos, there are many other factors that can often be overlooked.

Below are just some of the ways you could be damaging your lungs without realising.

Poor indoor air quality

It’s important to consider the indoor air quality of your home and your workplace. Does the air quality meet requirements?

High levels of dust, radon, VOCs or mould could be affecting your breathing and putting you at risk of developing various respiratory diseases. It could be worth getting an air quality test to see what the air is like in your home.

You can improve air quality by making sure that your home is well ventilated (which could include opening windows or using extractor fans). You can also buy air purifiers to get rid of harmful contaminants from the air.

Make sure that you’re also eliminating the sources of these contaminants to stop them building up (such as taking measures against damp to prevent mould growth).

Second-hand smoke

Even if you don’t smoke, you could damage your lungs simply by spending a lot of time around people who do.

Second-hand smoke can be equally harmful – especially in enclosed spaces like small rooms and cars. In fact, it’s believed to cause 41,000 deaths each year!

If you share a home with someone who smokes but you are a non-smoker yourself, you should ask them to smoke outdoors – or at the very least ask them to smoke out the window. 

Harsh cleaning chemicals

Many cleaning chemicals release VOCs and other toxic fumes that are not good for our lungs.

If you use cleaning chemicals on a regular basis (for example, as part of a cleaning job), you should consider wearing a mask or you should make sure the space is well ventilated. You can also protect your lungs by choosing cleaning products that contain a low level of VOCs.

Organic cleaning chemicals are generally less toxic. 

Outdoor fires

Outdoor fires like bonfires can be harmful to our lungs too if we spend too much time sat around them.

Respiratory issues like chronic bronchitis are common among those who regularly spend time around burning wood without wearing a mask.

The odd campfire may not do too much damage, however it can do if you’re sitting in the smoke, so try to sit away from the direction of the smoke. 

Lack of exercise

Studies show that a lack of physical inactivity can increase the risk of developing respiratory problems.

This is because exercise encourages you to use your whole lungs when breathing, allowing you to get fresh air into the bottom of your lungs and helping you to exhale contaminants.

There are lots of ways to incorporate more exercise into your life.

Simply going on a brisk walk outdoors could help you to get that fresh air into your lungs that you need. 

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