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How To Improve Lung Health to Keep Diving After Covid-19

how to improve lung health (2) como mejorar la salud pulmonar

On one hand, how to improve lung Health after Covid-19? is a question that, sadly, many scuba divers have to ask their doctors nowadays.

In another hand, we do not believe that reminding us that diving can have risks for the lungs is needed. It is something that every diver has in mind.

“Never stop breathing” is a mantra for us. However, to breathe underwater in a safe way, our lungs have to be strong.

This content reviews all we have learned about how to improve lung health.

how to improve lung health (1) como mejorar la salud pulmonar

1. How To Tell If Your Lungs Are Healthy: DAN Advice

 Many divers are wondering how to be sure their lungs are healthy enough to dive again and we thought the same. For that reason, we asked DAN

These are their recommendations.

First, you should know that the time to return to scuba is relative to the gravity of your Covid-19 disease.

According to DAN, depending on the severity and Covid-19 consequences on their lungs, people can be divided into 4 groups.

 

Group A

Group A is composed of the asymptomatic and those who had only mild symptoms: nasal congestion, sore throat, and headache.

A recommendation is to wait at least 30 days after the first negative test before asking for medical clearance to dive and consult a doctor if there is any doubt with respect to the health of your lungs.

 

Group B

They are those who did get mildly ill, but there was no need to hospitalize them.

If you are one of them, probably, you are wondering how to make sure your lungs are healthy. Attending a medical evaluation 60 days after recovering from Covid is DAN’s recommendation (30 days from the first negative test, plus an additional 30 days without symptoms).

In addition, the doctor has to know you are a diver.

 

Group C

These are divers that were hospitalized because of the disease and required drug treatment.

They will have to wait for 3 months from the first negative test before seeing a doctor. Only a hyperbaric doctor can diagnose if your lungs are healthy enough to dive.

In this case, a hyperbaric medicine specialist should perform complete pulmonary function tests, a stress test with oxygen saturation measurement, and a CT scan of the lungs.

 

Group D

Divers who have suffered the most severe or critical symptoms will undergo exhaustive examinations. They have to be validated by a hyperbaric medicine specialist. They will have to wait 6 months from their first negative test to know if their lungs are healthy enough to dive.

2. Warning Sing of lung disease

In any case, if any of these danger signs appear, see your doctor. You should learn how to strengthen your lungs ASAP for diving again.

  • Chronic cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chronic mucus production
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing up blood
  • Chronic chest pain

3. How to Increase Lung Capacity

  • 3. 1. Lung Rehabilitation

After a serious illness such as that caused by Covid-19, it is probable, that the diver who wants to improve the health of his lungs or make them stronger will have to undergo pulmonary rehabilitation.

According to the American Lung Association, this treatment consists of:

Sport. A plan of exercises adapted to your physical capacities. It will go from less to more.

Nutritional counseling. A healthy weight is essential. Too much weight can make breathing and diving difficult and too little can mean weak lungs and respiratory muscles.

Education about the disease. If you still suffer from symptoms, you should learn which situations worsen them and how to avoid them.

Postural hygiene. Avoid movements that make breathing more difficult and cause unnecessary lung stress.

Breathing techniques. With them, you will learn to reduce the number of inhalations and optimize oxygen obtention. Also, you will learn to keep the airways open for more time.

Psychological counseling and/or group support.

 

  • 3.2. Foods For Lung Health

Advice from the British Lung Foundation, European Lung Foundation, and Lung Foundation Australia all agree that eating well is the way to healthier lungs. Food nutrients, as well as good hydration, are the basis for preventing lung infections.

A balanced diet contains all food groups and maintains a water intake of at least 2 liters per day.

Hydration is essential if you want to keep your lungs clean and help them function properly.

There are no prohibited foods for healthy lungs unless the diver has previously declared allergies or intolerances. For example, there is no scientific evidence to support some claims about the inconvenience of dairy products for the lungs.

However, refined flour, red meats, sweets, and large amounts of dairy fat are associated with an increased risk of lung disease. It does not mean you cannot eat these foods but do it in a moderated way.

According to the recent study Nutrition and Respiratory Health, the nutrients that were considered essential for our lung health are:

  1. Antioxidants and flavonoids, reduce oxidative oxygen stress that causes inflammation. Fruits and vegetables contain them in greater quantities.
  2. Vitamin C may inhibit the production of negative proteins for the lungs. Foods that contain them are oranges or lemons, cauliflower, kiwi and broccoli, among others.
  3. Vitamin E neutralize oxidizing agents that enter our respiratory system. Olive oil and nuts are rich in Vitamin E.
  4. Vitamin D, in countries with little sunlight or for people who hardly leave the house and are deficient in vitamin D, the British Lung Foundation advises the consumption of a vitamin D supplement. The reason is that adequate levels of vitamin D in the body can strengthen the lungs and reduce your risk of future lung infections.
  5. Magnesium, Calcium, and Potassium are believed to be good nutrients for lung health based on statistical data. Nuts, cereals, seeds, carrots, spinach, and seafood contain them.
how to improve lung health (3) como mejorar la salud pulmonar

How to eat to improve lung health

  • Low salt intake
  • To avoid swallowing air while eating, eat slowly and chew your food well.
  • If you have difficulty eating and breathing, opt for softer, wetter foods that are easier to chew and swallow.
  • Make stops if you are suffocating and eat when you have more energy.
  • To relieve pressure on your lungs while eating, keep an upright posture, drink water at the end of the meal, and avoid fizzy drinks and more flatulent foods.
  • Eat less and eat more often.

 

  • 3.3. Breathing Exercises to Strengthen the Lungs

Pursed Lip Breathing

Breathe in through your nose, hold your breath for 2-3 seconds and breathe out slowly through your mouth. Your lips should be pursed as if you were blowing out a candle. This exercise reduces the number of breaths and opens the airways for a longer time.

 

Belly Breathing is Also Known as Slow Diaphragmatic Breathing.

It is an excellent exercise to make your lungs stronger for diving.

Clicking on the link, you will find a video from the American Lung Association. It explains step by step how to improve lung health with this technique.

 

 

4. 7 Ways to Keep Your Lungs Healthy

In addition to the advice, we have given you above. We summarize the 7 steps to keep lungs healthy whether you are a diver or not.

  1. Be Smoke-Free. It is the main cause of many lung diseases like cancer, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and others.
  2. Wash your hands often and brush your teeth at least twice daily to remove germs and bacteria. They cause illnesses such as influenza, pneumonia, and bronchitis.
  3. Avoids crowds during the flu season
  4. Stay Up to Date on Vaccines
  5. Get Regular Medical Check-ups to prevent diseases.
  6. Exercise Regularly. Being physically active is one of the secrets to keeping your lungs healthy.
  7. Go to nature, breathe clean air. Indoor Pollutants and Outdoor Air Pollution are unhealthy to breathe.

It has involved serious research. We have turned to the medical professionals who help us daily in the hyperbaric chambers near the Dressel Divers bases. We also consulted reputable lung health institute publications. So, do not hesitate. If you are a doctor or a hyperbaric medicine professional and know more advanced information about how to improve lung health, contact us, and we will expand the article.

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