Lifestyle Changes to Improve Respiratory Health in Children

A woman holding her child at an outdoor picnic event.

In the United States, 1 in 12 children has asthma, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Maintaining your child’s health and avoiding respiratory problems can mean close monitoring by a pediatrician and lifestyle changes.

Some common lifestyle habits can lead to worsening respiratory problems. What can you do as a parent to protect and improve your child’s respiratory health? Look at these effective lifestyle changes you can start implementing for your child today.

Increase Physical Activity for a Stronger Heart and Lungs

For parents of children with asthma or other similar respiratory issues, physical activity can seem daunting to encourage. However, sedentary activities — including sitting at the computer or in front of the television for long periods — can actually worsen asthma symptoms.

Physical activity helps strengthen the lungs and heart. The trick is to find the right level of activity as well as the right activities themselves. Those best suited for children with respiratory problems include:

  • Walking
  • Hiking
  • Yoga
  • Biking
  • Swimming
  • Gymnastics

It’s always crucial to ensure your child takes the right precautions before being active, including taking any necessary medications and avoiding what can trigger an asthma attack. Always consult with your child’s pediatrician before beginning any new activities, and monitor symptoms.

Find the Right Nutritional Balance for Respiratory Health

What your child eats impacts their overall well-being — including their respiratory health. Foods high in saturated fats can cause inflammatory responses in the body that can trigger asthma attacks and worsen other respiratory issues.

According to the National Library of Medicine, some diets have been shown to lower inflammation throughout the body. This includes the Mediterranean diet, which focuses on minimizing processed foods, refined grains, and dairy while increasing plant-based options, including nuts, seeds, and vegetables.

Antioxidants are also essential for respiratory health. Oxidative stress in the lungs can occur from airborne pollution and irritants, but antioxidants can help combat that damage.

Adding foods high in vitamins C and E and carotenoids and flavonoids is essential for respiratory health. You can find these in fruits, vegetables, nuts, cocoa, and green tea.

Encourage a Healthy Amount of Sleep

Your child needs to sleep a certain number of hours each night for many reasons, including to allow time for their body to recuperate from the day and to be strong enough to fight off illnesses and other conditions — including respiratory issues.

Not getting enough sleep can lower respiratory function and worsen symptoms of asthma and other respiratory problems. Sleep impacts breathing patterns; the lack of it modifies gas exchanges as well as ventilation.

To ensure your child gets enough sleep, you can set rules on electronic use before bed as well as enforce a bedtime. Getting your child used to a sleep routine can allow their bodies to function at their best.

Prevent Contact With Second-Hand Smoke

Second-hand smoke can cause serious complications in a child’s developing respiratory system. Cigarette smoke narrows the air passages and can lead to chronic inflammation, making regular breathing more difficult. In children who already have trouble breathing, it can severely impact their symptoms.

Over a long period, breathing in second-hand smoke can even destroy lung tissue.

Schedule Regular Checkups

Another crucial way to monitor your child’s respiratory health and ensure they receive the right treatments is to schedule regular checkups with your pediatrician.

Your child’s pediatrician will be able to catch early signs of a breathing problem, resulting in a prompt diagnosis and fast treatment. Speak to your pediatrician to see what kind of schedule can benefit your child the most.

Avoiding Respiratory Problems With Lifestyle Changes

If your child struggles with asthma or other breathing issues, help doesn’t just come in the form of medications — it also involves lifestyle changes.

By monitoring what your child eats, the amount of appropriate exercise and sleep they get, and their potential contact with second-hand smoke, you can help them face fewer asthma symptoms or even prevent attacks completely.

The dedicated team at Newport Children’s Medical Group has served Orange County families for over 45 years. For compassionate, expert pediatric care, schedule an appointment with us today.