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Lifestyle Tips When Diagnosed With a Respiratory Concern

Did you know that chronic respiratory diseases (CRDs) are the leading causes of disability and death in the Americas? The disease claimed 534,242 lives, or 35.8 deaths per 100,000 individuals, in 2019.

Asthma, lung cancer, and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) can sometimes cause or worsen lung problems. In rare cases, mesothelioma may also impact the lungs. But knowing the different stages of mesothelioma may help prevent the disease.

If you’ve been diagnosed with a lung problem, what lifestyle adjustments can you make to help your respiratory condition? What steps should you take after getting diagnosed with a respiratory problem?

This article explores the lifestyle changes you can make to protect lung health. We’ll also give you tips on what to do when diagnosed with a respiratory condition.

This article aims to provide the information you need to help address your respiratory concerns so that you can get your health back and start living a healthy, fit, and pain-free life.

Protect Your Respiratory Health With These Lifestyle Changes

Your body has a natural immune system that protects your lungs from damage and prevents or lowers the chance of germs, dirt, and other factors from making you sick.

But when you’re diagnosed with lung disease, you can no longer rely on your immune system only. You must also adjust your lifestyle to help reduce your lung disease risk and ease the burden on your immune system.

Quit Smoking

Cigarette smoking is at the top of the list whenever we talk about the main causes of lung cancer and COPD. Emphysema (shortness of breath) and chronic bronchitis (productive cough lasting three months or more) are also linked to smoking.

Cigarette smoke can constrict your air passages and cause difficulty in breathing. Smoking also leads to chronic inflammation or lung swelling, causing chronic bronchitis.

As time passes, cigarette smoke can destroy lung tissue and even cause changes that can trigger cancer.

Still, it’s never too late to quit. When you stop smoking, you reduce your risk for COPD, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and poor reproductive health outcomes.

Quitting smoking also provides the following benefits:

  • Reduced respiratory symptoms like coughing, wheezing, and sputum (saliva and mucus) production

  • Decreased respiratory infections like pneumonia and bronchitis

  • Improved lung function and treatment results among persons with asthma

Stay Active

Sedentary behavior is a risk factor for disease and premature mortality, so keep moving.

Studies show that physical activity can help you avoid 6% to 10% of the major non-communicable diseases and even help you live longer!

By doing moderate to high levels of regular physical activity, patients with COPD can fight the worsening of their lung function. More importantly, physical activity can help reduce the risk of smokers developing COPD.

Check out this video on simple breathing exercises for COPD to learn more!

Change What You Eat

Food quality affects lung health. Studies have shown that malnutrition (lack of proper nutrition) can worsen obstructive respiratory diseases like asthma and COPD.

One study suggested that the Mediterranean diet, consisting of high consumption of vegetables and fruits, has potential anti-inflammatory benefits and may be linked to asthma control.

Studies show that high vegetable and fruit intake may help current and ex-smokers avoid the risks of COPD.

Keep Informed

Collaborative self-management programs can help an individual’s well-being, support self-efficacy, and improve health.

These programs are designed to help an individual develop skills to manage the disease and learn more about:

  • The nature of the disease

  • The use of drugs and devices

  • Symptom management

  • Physical activity

After The Diagnosis: What Can You Do?

When you have a respiratory condition, visiting a doctor for regular checkups can help prevent disease, even when you think you’re feeling well. Lung diseases are no exception, especially since they can sometimes go undetected until it is serious.

Depending on the diagnosis, your healthcare provider can ask you to take additional tests or exams. Your doctor can also prescribe medications and, if you’re a smoker, ask you to quit, especially if you’re diagnosed with COPD.

Depending on the condition, the doctor can prescribe the following:

  • Bronchodilators: These inhalers can help relax the airway muscles to relieve shortness of breath and coughing.

  • Inhaled corticosteroids: These medications can help reduce airway inflammation or prevent it from getting worse.

  • Allergy medications: These drugs can help manage asthma triggered by allergies.

For more respiratory health tips when you get diagnosed with lung disease, contact the American Lung Association at 1-800-586-4872. You can also donate to help fund lung disease and cancer research, discover new treatments, and promote lung health education.


1. Chronic respiratory disease burden

2. COPD Causes and Risk Factors

3. Protecting Your Lungs

4. Benefits of Quitting

5. Too Much Sitting: The Population-Health Science of Sedentary Behavior

6. Impact of Physical Inactivity on the World’s Major Non-Communicable Diseases

7. Lifestyle interventions in prevention and comprehensive management of COPD

8. Diet and Asthma: Is It Time to Adapt Our Message?

9. The effects of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease self-management interventions on improvement of quality of life in COPD patients: A meta-analysis


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