You're not alone if, prior to the novel coronavirus pandemic, you thought only chain-smokers needed to worry about their lung health. But now, it makes sense to wonder if there's anything you can do to safeguard your lungs from some of the symptoms associated with this never-before-seen strain of coronavirus, like coughing, shortness of breath, and pneumonia.
How does coronavirus affect lung health?
What does the coronavirus have to do with your lungs, exactly? Board certified in Family Medicine practitioner Michael Richardson, MD with One Medical says: "When the virus enters your lungs, it can lead to irritation of the lung lining, causing you to cough."
The virus can cause so much irritation of the lung lining that it causes pneumonia, which is when air sacs in your lungs become inflamed and may end up filling with fluid, he says.
The more inflammation and fluid in your lungs, the harder it becomes to breathe, which can be life-threatening for those with weaker immune systems, such as the elderly and people with significant pre-existing medical conditions, he explains.
MDs' best tips for short- and long-term lung health
No matter who you are and what your health status is, taking care of your lungs is an important part of taking care of your overall health and wellbeing. With that in mind, here's what doctors say you can do to keep your lungs functioning optimally, during the COVID-19 outbreak and beyond.