Respiratory Health Overview

Over the years, there have been various indications that respiratory health has a role to play in many major diseases or conditions. What, then, is respiratory health, and how can you maintain yours? 


A report published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine (sponsored by the American Thoracic Society) stated that relationships exist between reduced lung functions and several non-respiratory adverse health results.1 This shows that proper respiratory health goes beyond the absence of chronic lung infections or disease. 

What is good respiratory health?

While there is no exact definition for good respiratory health, it could be described as a state where there is no observable reduction in lung function, no respiratory deficiency, and respiratory system functionality is optimal (depending on the age of the person). The exact definition of good respiratory health is still subject to perspective. 

A definition that contains all the factors to be considered under respiratory health, such as ideal and impaired respiratory health, as well as respiratory diseases, can be deemed a comprehensive definition1. But for now, in absence of observable respiratory markers and key symptoms of manifesting or existing respiratory diseases, one could be considered to be in good respiratory health. 

Respiratory health is assumed to be able to cover two broad areas:

  • Factors influencing optimum respiratory health or pulmonary reserve 
  • Factors that affect the rate of declining lung function in adults or the degree of susceptibility

The World Health Organization (WHO) has initiated approaches to tackle the prevalence of Chronic Respiratory Diseases (CRDs). The WHO’s Global Alliance against CRDs (GARD) has recognized the essence yet rarity of breathing good air. They aim to help people breathe without worrying about respiratory complications.2

Some of the most popular respiratory complications include 

  1. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  2. Pulmonary Hypertension 
  3. Asthma
  4. Chronic Bronchitis 
  5. Emphysema 
  6. Occupational Lung Diseases

According to a report by the WHO, asthma affected about 262 million people and led to about 455 000 deaths in 2019. It is the most common chronic disease in children and one of the most common noncommunicable diseases in both children and adults.3

According to WHO, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) was responsible for 3.23 million deaths in 2019, making it the third leading cause of death worldwide.4 

Other significant causes for deteriorating respiratory health globally include:

  • Outdoor Air Pollution 
  • Household Air Pollution 


The major symptoms of respiratory disorder or declining lung functions are:

  1. Coughing: Constant coughing bouts can be symptoms of respiratory ailment. When it lasts for a short period, it’s most likely acute bronchitis. But a productive cough lasting for 2 consecutive years is a symptom of chronic bronchitis, COPD, and other respiratory diseases. A productive cough is one with excess mucus production. It usually sounds a bit “thick”. While non-productive or dry cough has no mucus excretion and can be painful 
  2. Pain in the chest region
  3. Pain when breathing
  4. Blood drops in sputum 


  1. Environmental pollution (smog)
  2. Allergies
  3. Advancing age (growing old)
  4. Microbe infection (mostly viral)

Risk factors

  1. Smoking
  2. Genetic Factors
  3. Occupational fumes and chemicals
  4. Recurring respiratory infections in childhood
  5. Environmental fumes and pollution 

You can reduce your risk of respiratory health problems by making a few changes to your lifestyle

The following lifestyle factors have the greatest impact on your risk of developing respiratory health problems. We will also look at what you can do to reduce your risk from today.


How nutrition can help reduce risk.

Paying more attention to what you eat could very much serve to improve respiratory health. Boosting the immune system is generally beneficial in fending off bacterial infections and recovering more quickly from most acute respiratory diseases, such as bronchitis. 

Physical activity

Exercising goes a long way in improving general respiratory health. Particularly by strengthening muscles and fortifying elasticity.


How to minimise the risk of the disease by minimizing the risk of obesity.

Obesity is a common risk factor for some respiratory diseases with symptoms such as shortness of breath. So efficient exercise and proper dieting should have you covered. 


Publication by Corey D.K. and David M.G. The effect of alcohol on the morbidity and mortality rate of respiratory diseases such as community-acquired pneumonia.5 Alcohol abuse increases significantly, the risk of acute lung injury and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).


Hydration is a key part of respiratory health. It is a crucial step in managing most acute respiratory diseases. Warm water or a hot beverage helps soften thick mucus in bronchitis or moistens the upper respiratory tract in cases of dry cough (which relieves pain).


How, if at all, is sleep connected to reducing the risk of the disease.

Sleep might not particularly be preventive when it comes to respiratory diseases. But sleep and proper rest give the body enough time and energy to recover from acute respiratory diseases quickly. 

Besides, a good sleep and rest routine never hurt anyone. 

Mental health

Relationship between mental health and reducing the risk of the disease/aiding in dealing with the symptoms.

There is no conclusive evidence that mental health causes respiratory disorders. But certain mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety could exacerbate symptoms such as shortness of breath. For those with long-term respiratory conditions, stay active as much as possible instead of focusing mindlessly on your limitations, and make the best use of what you can do

The European Lung Foundation gave some helpful tips concerning care for mental health. To assist those living with chronic respiratory diseases.6


Keeping your emotional health balanced is necessary for your physical health. Self-care is important for overall good health.

Add a couple of points on what you think is important for overall well-being.

Always follow any preventive measures put in place in your surroundings and when in doubt, use your nose mask.


While the research into proper respiratory health might be sorely lacking, its importance cannot be neglected. So at all times, endeavor to take whatever steps are necessary to take care of your lungs. For those already living with long-term lung conditions, hang in there- avoiding worsening the condition should be your major aim.

Diagnostic testing

At Klarity we use the latest technology when it comes to diagnostic testing. Our home blood tests give you health insights and personalised recommendations. Find out which test you should take.


  1. Reyfman PA, Washko GR, Dransfield MT, Spira A, Han MK, Kalhan R. Defining Impaired Respiratory Health. A Paradigm Shift for Pulmonary Medicine. Am J Respir Crit Care Med [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2023 Mar 3]; 198(4):440–6.
  2. Chronic respiratory diseases [Internet]. [cited 2023 Mar 3].
  3. Asthma [Internet]. [cited 2023 Mar 3]. 
  4. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) [Internet]. [cited 2023 Mar 3].
  5. Corey D.K. and David M.G., Alcoholic Lung Disease. Alchronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)ohol Research and Health: Putting System Biology Approach into Practice, 2008. 37[1]: 66-73. [Online]:  
  6. Mental wellbeing and lung health. Breathe (Sheff) [Internet]. 2020 [cited 2023 Mar 3]; 16(2):162ELF.

Christian Nonso Mba

Bachelor's degree, Pharmacy, Igbinedion University, Okada

I enjoy creative writing a lot. I have written books and articles on various platforms via numerous channels. I find articles medical and drug industry particularly interesting. But with my wealth of experience I can incorporate any desired “tone” into any topic when writing.

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