Protect your lungs this season

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Focusing on the health of your lungs is now more important than ever before. As the flu season falls upon us, there is a concern by health professionals about a double pandemic involving COVID-19 and the flu. To date, more than 9.2 million Americans have contracted COVID-19 thus far, 38 million Americans had the flu in the 2019-2020 season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In addition, there are about 15 million adults with chronic bronchitis and emphysema and another 25 million who live with asthma.

With COVID-19 being a respiratory disease that can have varying degrees of impacts to one’s lungs, there are mounting concerns about long-term lung damage – especially among people at increased risk such as older adults and people with certain underlying medical conditions.

To help keep you healthy, Inland Empire Health Plan’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Karen Hansberger has tips to keeping lungs healthy this season and throughout the pandemic.

  1. Get a flu shot
  2. Wear a mask and wash hands frequently
  3. Avoid smoking, vaping, and secondhand smoke
  4. Take a steam shower to open up your airways
  5. Practice daily box breathing exercises – inhale for four seconds, hold for four seconds, exhale for four seconds, and repeat
  6. Exercise and move your body regularly to flex the lung muscles
  7. Eat foods rich in antioxidants to boost lung function – berries, beets, apples, olive oil, and yogurt to name a few
  8. Drink lots of water to keep lung lining hydrated
  9. Stay on top of dental hygiene to prevent bacteria from traveling from your mouth to your upper airway

We highly encourage those with questions or concerns about lung health to contact their primary care physician or health plan provider for further guidance. You can also learn more about lung health at:

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• American Lung Association – www.lung.org
• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – www.cdc.gov/niosh/respiratory/health.html

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