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October is Healthy Lung Month!

by Elizabeth Girard, MS, L.Ac.

Western Massachusetts AcupunctureNo one understands better than I do about how hard this time of year can be on your lungs. At age 4 I was diagnosed with asthma and have suffered almost every year around this time. Between allergies, the cold air and the onset of cold/flu season, I almost always have a flare up of asthma symptoms. Having said that there are a few things that I have found to be true lifesavers for me. 

1. Exercise/ Lifestyle changes: The lungs need to be expanded in order to be healthy. Cardio 3 times a week is ideal. This time of year it is not a good idea to exercise outside as the cold air can be harsh on anyone with asthma or a lung condition. It's time to take it to the gym or better yet take a Zumba or Salsa class. Stress Management is also key in maintaining healthy lungs. Stress and anxiety often make us take short, shallow breaths. Take a moment to check in with your body. Pull your shoulders down and make sure you are using your stomach muscles to take a deep breath rather than your chest. Go ahead take a couple deep breaths. 

2. Eat A Healthy Diet: For lung health specifically there are certain foods you should be avoiding. Dairy especially ice cream is very bad for asthmatics or anyone that tend to have an excessive amount of phlegm (wheezing). Also greasy foods like McDonalds or other fast food joints. Alcohol is also something you have to be careful with. You may even notice that after a couple of drinks wheezing can come on. ( I usually say all foods in moderation but if you are having signs and symptoms of lung issues, its best to avoid them all together until things calm down.)

3. Supplements: Taking certain supplements can help to break up mucus, improve your immune system and decrease inflammation which is part of the cause of asthma, allergies, sinus infections and other chronic lung ailments.  

4. Acupuncture/Chinese Herbs: Acupuncture is amazing for boosting your immune system as well as decreasing inflammation. I have personally experience life changing results with both acupuncture and Chinese herbs in managing my asthma and allergies. Chinese herbs can help prevent colds and other ailments as well as treat them. 

I hope it goes without saying that if you are experiencing severe shortness of breath or are using a fast acting inhaler multiple times a day it is best to see your doctor as soon as possible. 

To read more about my personal story with asthma and allergies and how acupuncture helped me, visit the "My Story" page.