Whether you have been diagnosed with asthma or another chronic lung condition, it is important to ensure that your lungs are working efficiently. Few things are scarier than being unable to breathe, especially if you don’t have a plan of action. Fortunately, you can take steps at home to confirm that your lungs are working normally, even if your “normal” looks a little different than those without a chronic lung condition. Let’s discuss how you can identify healthy lungs.
How to Tell if Your Lungs Are Healthy
Again, depending on how severe your asthma is, your “health” range might look a little different from the average one. However, you can monitor your lungs’ health and confirm their efficiency by applying the following rules.
Use an at-home spirometer.
At-home spirometry allows you to monitor your lung health on a daily basis through simple testing. To use a spirometer, simply breathe into the handheld device and watch the arrow, which indicates your FEV1%. Your FEV1% describes your overall lung capacity as compared to other individuals who share your age, weight, sex, etc. This percentage helps you see where your “normal” falls, and daily testing alerts you to any major changes in your numbers.
Watch for unusual symptoms.
By the same token, if you experience any unusual symptoms (symptoms that you have not before experienced), it indicates potential problems or the need for new medication. If your symptoms remain the same and of similar severity, your lungs are probably in a fairly neutral state. At-home spirometry helps you take note of these symptoms and possible correlations with decreased lung capacity.
Perform personal breathing exercises.
Another great way to test your own lung health is to begin employing breathing techniques and exercises. Not only can proper exercise help improve your lung capacity, but it also alerts you to potential breathing changes. For instance, if you suddenly begin having difficulty doing an exercise you do every day with no problem, your lungs may not be working normally. Learn more about breathing exercises here.
Visit an allergist.
If you suspect that your lungs are not acting normally but you have never been diagnosed with asthma, consider scheduling a visit to an allergist. Many asthmatics assume their breathing problems are related to minor allergies, but the allergens are in fact triggering their asthma. It is important to get to the root of the problem so that proper maintenance techniques can be employed.
Pay attention to trigger exposures.
Another easy way to tell if your lungs are working properly is to pay attention to potential triggers. For example, if you know exercise is a common trigger for your asthma, but you don’t notice any difficulty breathing after a brisk walk or short bout of physical activity, it’s a good sign! That means your lungs are not responding to triggers in a hyper-sensitive manner.
Signs That You Should See a Doctor
While the above tips are helpful in determining whether or not your lungs are working normally, you also need to know if they are struggling. Never, ever ignore signs that your lungs need attention. Otherwise, you might find yourself in a scary situation. If you notice any of the following things occurring, immediately schedule an appointment with your doctor (or an emergency visit).
- You begin experiencing new symptoms that you have never experienced before.
- Pre-existing symptoms become much more severe.
- You cannot catch your breath even with the help of medication.
- At-home testing reveals that your lung capacity is worsening.
- Exposure to new triggers causes your body to react.
Not Sure Whether or Not You Have Asthma?
Even if you don’t suffer from asthma, your lungs may act up from time to time. Chronic respiratory issues are serious, so it is important to visit a doctor to receive the proper diagnosis. Allergens, physical exercise, bad air quality, and stress all contribute to asthma-like symptoms. Make your health a priority by undergoing the proper testing and developing a course of action for potential flare-ups.