You should learn various lung cleansing techniques if you have been exposed to dust, air pollution or if you are a smoker. These techniques are more important, especially for those with lung health issues like COPD and chronic bronchitis.
While it is possible to clear your lungs, the best solution to improve your lung health is to avoid harmful toxins such as dust and tobacco altogether.
However, this article will discuss what to do after inhaling dust with seven effective treatment options you can do at home to clear your lungs.
1. Practice Controlled Coughing
Controlled coughing is one of the ways you can expel dust that is trapped in the mucus. It entails coughing from deep in the lungs, thus building an adequate force to remove the mucus from the airways.
This technique is imperative, especially for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) patients. This medical condition causes the lungs to produce excess mucus, thus leading to frequent coughing.
It means that if you are suffering from COPD, your lungs will produce excess mucus, trapping a lot of dust.
As such, one needs to learn practice-controlled coughing to cough effectively and release the dust in the lungs. Follow these steps to cough effectively.
- Sit at the edge of your bed or on a chair and lean forward with both feet on the floor.
- Fold your arms across the stomach and breathe in slowly.
- Lean forward when breathing out and press your arms against the stomach.
- Cough two to three times, but ensure the coughs are short. These coughs will loosen the mucus and force it out.
- Breathe in again through the nose to ensure the mucus does not flow back to the lungs.
- Rest and repeat the process several times again if needed.
You should see a doctor if you are having challenges replicating this process so that they can guide you through it.
Furthermore, you can use mucus clearing devices if the controlled coughing technique is ineffective. Some of these devices include Aerobika, Lung Flute, and Acapella. However, consult an expert to learn how to use these devices effectively.
2. Use Gravity To Drain Mucus from the Lungs
Postural drainage entails using gravity to drain mucus from the lungs. This method involves changing different positions to ensure the mucus is completely drained from the lungs and is used to treat various diseases, such as bronchiectasis.
The main guidelines for doing the postural drainage technique are:
- You should hold each position for a minimum of five minutes.
- You should do each position on the bed or floor.
- Ensure your hips are above the chest in every position.
- Breathe through your nose and exhale through your mouth while in each position to ensure they are effective.
- Do the postural drainage technique in the morning and at night.
There are two ways you can use gravity to drain mucus.
Sleeping on Your Stomach
Follow the steps below:
- Place some pillows on the floor before you lie down on your stomach.
- Fold your arms under your head and ensure the hips are above the chest.
- Inhale with your nose and breathe out using your mouth. However, you should take longer to exhale than to inhale.
- Continue with the breathing routine for a while.
Sleeping on Your Back
Follow the steps below:
- You can sleep on the floor or in bed before commencing this process. However, place the pillows below your back to ensure the chest is below the hips.
- Breathe in through the nose and breath out through the mouth, but you should take more time when breathing out.
- Repeat the breathing process several times.
Ultimately, irrespective of the position you use, you will drain out the mucus containing the dust you have inhaled.
3. Steam Therapy
Steam therapy is the process of inhaling water vapor to loosen the mucus.
You may notice that your symptoms become severe during the cold months if you have a lung problem. This is because the cold air dries out the mucus in your lungs, making it difficult for it to come out.
However, steam therapy loosens the mucus in the lungs, making breathing easy. In this lung cleansing technique, you will require a bowl, towel, water, and kettle for heating the water.
Here is the steam therapy process you should follow.
- Boil water and pour it into the bowl.
- Place the towel at the back of your head and turn on the timer.
- Lower your head towards the bowl until you are approximately eight to twelve inches from the bowl.
- Breathe deeply and slowly through the nose for a maximum of five minutes.
You can repeat this steam therapy process if you think the dust has not completely cleared from the lungs.
4. Get Some Exercise
In addition to improving one’s physical and mental health, regular exercise is essential in boosting your lung health.
Rigorous physical activity overworks the muscles, which increases your breathing rate because these muscles require a higher supply of air. Thus, you will breathe in more deeply and quickly, loosening the mucus containing the inhaled dust, which is forced out.
You can start with small exercises and work towards high-intensity exercises to allow the body to adapt to these physical activities.
Another benefit of exercising is that it improves your circulation, ultimately making your lungs and heart stronger.
However, you should consult a doctor before doing any vigorous exercise. Discussing with a health practitioner is essential, especially for those suffering from lung problems, such as asthma.
The doctor will formulate an exercise regimen that suits your condition that you can use to cleanse your lungs.
5. Drink Green Tea
Green tea is one of the most healthy and popular teas used as a lung cleanse remedy. Green tea contains chemicals such as polyphenols and phytochemicals responsible for the tea’s antioxidant properties.
A 2018 study involving older Korean adults disclosed that consuming two cups of green tea daily increased pulmonary function, reducing the odds of developing pulmonary infections. Thus, the components of green tea are great for cleansing your lungs in case of smoke or dust inhalation.
That said, since green tea is packed with antioxidants, consider having more than a cup a day to combat any lung inflammation. You may add a dash of lemon and ginger to it, making it more flavorful.
6. Eat Anti-inflammatory Foods
Lung inflammation may result from infections and diseases such as COPD, asthma, and bronchitis. It may result in general tiredness, difficulty breathing, wheezing, coughing, and chest tightness.
However, the good news is eating anti-inflammatory foods can significantly reduce the inflammation relieving your symptoms and pain. That said, an anti-inflammatory diet incorporates vegetables, fruits, and foods rich in nutrients such as proteins, spices, omega-3, and healthy fats.
Anti-inflammatory foods include:
- Oily fish such as salmon and tuna
- Green leafy vegetables
- Olive oil
However, note that nutritionists and dieticians discourage the consumption of:
- Processed meats
- Processed foods such as snacks and white bread
- Foods with added sugar and salt
- Premade sugary desserts such as cookies
These foods are not recommended because they increase the probability of lung inflammation.
7. Try Chest Percussion
Chest percussion is a medical technique used to help drain lung fluids.
The process involves a healthcare professional making the patient lie down with their head lowered. Your doctor will then tap your back lightly; they will work from top to bottom.
The professional can also tap the chest wall rhythmically to extricate the trapped mucus or fluids in the lungs.
Additionally, they can combine chest percussions and postural drainage. This important technique involves the patient sitting or laying in certain positions to drain the fluids from their airways using gravity.
This procedure is helpful for individuals suffering from pneumonia and cystic fibrosis, both of which may transpire from too much dust exposure.
An individual visiting the doctor should be prepared for chest percussion and postural drainage to remove the secretions clogging their lungs.
Below are common FAQs regarding clearing dust from the lungs.
- What long-term damage can dust do to the lungs?You may not think that dust inhalation from home or your workplace can affect you; however, it may cause several dust-related diseases for some people. For instance, one of the most vital long-term damages is silicosis, a lung disease characterized by inflammation and scarring. People working in construction and demolition, stone masonry, pottery, sandblasting, and mining industries are the most affected. Silicosis mainly happens after years of inhaling silica and quartz dust. Additionally, another long-term damage from dust includes occupational lung disease. This mainly occurs after an individual is exposed to dust, fibers, and chemical debris for some time. Occupational lung disease is characterized by chest tightness and pains, abnormal breathing, coughing, and shortness of breath.
- What are the symptoms of excess dust inhalation?Dust inhalation affects your body in various ways. For instance, in the early few weeks or months of dust exposure, you may experience eyes, nose, and throat irritation, inflammation of the mucous membrane, and repeated coughing. However, dust can also affect your airways, making breathing harder through your nasal cavity. In extreme situations, rapid exposure to dust inhalation may result in the development of pulmonary diseases, including asthma, characterized by symptoms such as shortness of breath, chest tightness, wheezing, and coughing. Others may suffer from pneumonia and likely experience fatigue, nausea and vomiting, shortness of breath, chest pain when coughing, and rapid fever and chills. Those suffering from COPD may experience increased breathlessness, persistent cough, and wheezing. Lastly, those exposed to silica dust, especially in the construction and mining industries, may develop silicosis that can become lung cancer after long-term dust exposure. Silicosis is mainly characterized by fatigue, fever, blue discoloration on the lips, leg swelling, and lung scarring upon diagnosis.
- Should I see a doctor after inhaling dust?After inhaling dust and experiencing symptoms like coughing and shortness of breath, it is crucial to seek medical attention. You may not think it is a big deal, but the symptoms may be a warning sign of an impending lung infection. Remember, if you work in an environment prone to dust inhalation without constant protective nasal gear, you may likely fall prey to lung damage. Thus, it would help if you considered visiting the doctor for regular respiratory checkups.
Dust pollutants and other debris may enter the lungs affecting your health and overall wellbeing.
While an average person may not suffer significant health issues caused by occasional dust inhalation, one with long-term exposure may have damaged lungs caused by chronic lung infections. These include cystic fibrosis, asthma, and COPD.
Since dust pollutants and toxins are trapped inside the mucus, it is essential to consider specific lung laxative procedures such as chest percussion and postural drainage to help dislodge the mucus from the airways and lungs.
On the other hand, drinking green tea, steam therapy, and eating inflammatory diets are preventive measures to clear and improve your lung health.
Christine Kingsley, APRN is the Health and Wellness Director at the Lung Institute where she focuses on providing helpful online resources for people looking for information on various lung diseases, breathing exercises, and healthy lifestyle choices. She advocates for holistic care that involves working with your doctor to explore all options including traditional and alternative care while focusing on diet and exercise as proactive measures.