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How to improve lung health after COVID-19

It is common to experience respiratory distress after recovering from COVID-19. One of the main focus points during overall post-COVID-19 recovery is restoring lung function. There are many benefits of focusing on lung health. COVID-19 can have long-term effects on lung function. A crucial part of the recovery process is to regain proper lung function and capacity. Improving our lung function also clears the lungs of sputum thus making it easier to breathe.

Below are the three key recommendations to improve your lung function and reduce the chances of serious respiratory consequences:

Exercise – One of the best ways to boost lung function is to exercise the lung muscles and build its capacity and function. Exercises to improve lung function work the same way as any physical exercise, it focuses on strengthening and expanding lung capacity .

  • Begin exercises in phases – slowly build up the capacity of the body and the lungs. Such exercises can improve the muscle function that expands our lungs . Pulmonary rehabilitation can help in reducing shortness of breath and managing respiratory complications.
    • Positions that improve breathlessness 
      • Leaning forward position – Bend forward while sitting on a chair
      • Prone position – lying on the tummy. It is recommended to improve lung dynamics and oxygenation. 
      • Breathing using belly – Breathe deeply while consciously making the tummy go up for inhaling and tummy go down for exhaling.
  • Exercises for better lung functions:
    • Training to adjust breathing rhythm 
    • Techniques to strengthen the breathing muscles
    • Expectoration training – to remove mucus from the airways
    • Cardio workouts: Physical exercises that focus on cardio and ramping up breathing can help restore lung capacity. 
    • With physical as well as breathing exercises, pacing yourself is crucial. Take it slow, increase the intensity and repetition of exercises gradually. 

Eating healthy foods – Including foods that are rich in antioxidants improves our overall immune system, and consequently our lung function. Healthy food can provide essential nutrients and make the lungs healthier. 

  • Include: Fruits, vegetables, lentils, beans, nuts, grains, juices, home cooked meals and foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals. 
  • Avoid: Sugar, fats, oils, processed meats, processed foods, salt, caffeine, syrups (concentrated sugar content), alcohol, smoking and fast foods. 
  • Along with crucial diet changes, it is crucial to increase water intake during COVID-19 recovery, as it plays a crucial role in boosting our body’s overall function. 

Avoid smoking and alcohol consumption– Smoking causes structural and functional changes in the lungs and immune cells. Smoking not only depletes your lung’s health and functionality, it induces extra stress on other vital organs. Continuing to smoke post-COVID-19 may result in long-term pulmonary problems and infections. Alcohol has a similar effect on the immune function of our body. It makes it harder for our immune system to fight infections. 

These key lifestyle changes can boost your lung function and help you recover from COVID-19 with ease. 

The lungs are only one of the many focus areas for post COVID recuperation. To guide and support your recovery every step of the way, Apollo ProHealth offers the Covid recovery and wellness program. This package offers a range of services such as a comprehensive health assessment of your vitals and organs, reviews with a physician and a pulmonologist, rehabilitation and psychological assessment, nutrition consultation, continuous monitoring by a health mentor over a 12-month period, and a booklet on Dos and Don’ts during recovery; thus extending our support beyond the confines of the hospital for end-to-end patient care while recovering from COVID-19.  

Complete recovery is possible if you follow a schedule that works for your health status. Remember not to overexert yourself and pace your rehabilitation. Get well soon!

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