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covid 19 lungs

How COVID-19 Impacts Lungs 

COVID-19 is the illness caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which first appeared in China in November of 2019. It infects the cells that line the airways, specifically the mucous membranes.

The infection inflames the lung tissues, where oxygen and carbon dioxide pass between the blood and the air. When these tissues swell up and fill with fluid making it harder to breathe, the lungs have a more challenging time doing their job, getting oxygen to your body, and removing waste.

The most common symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • A fever or chills, night sweats
  • A dry or wet cough
  • Trouble breathing
  • Aches and pains, including headache and sore throat
  • Losing the ability to taste and smell 
  • Runny nose and chest congestion
  • Digestive issues, including diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting

When a COVID-19 infection becomes severe, the lungs swell and fill up with fluid. A condition called pneumonia usually causes breathing difficulties in COVID-19 infections, and in severe cases, it may require treatment in the hospital with oxygen or a ventilator to breathe for them.

When COVID-19 pneumonia is severe, it can cause lasting lung damage and lingering symptoms that can take months or even up to a year to recover from. The infection and inflammation of lung tissues, including the airways, can cause excessive mucus production, leading to a wet, productive cough.

Breathing Exercises to Clear COVID Lungs 

If you’re having trouble clearing mucus from your lungs after a respiratory infection, these exercises may help. Here are some exercises to tey ro help strengthen your lungs and expel the mucus.

Deep Breathing Exercise  

This exercise will expand your lungs and help clear mucus. You can be lying down or sitting up to do this exercise. Just keep your chest and shoulders relaxed in a comfortable position:

  1. Place one hand on your upper belly and the other on your chest to feel your breathing movements.
  2. Breathe in deeply through your nose and feel your belly expand outward.
  3. Breathe out slowly through pursed lips, emptying your lungs and sucking in your belly.
  4. Repeat slowly three to five times, multiple times a day.

Breath Stacking Exercise 

This exercise can help expand your lungs, keep your muscles moving and flexible, and help strengthen your cough to clear mucus. You can do this exercise multiple times a day, but make sure you’ve waited at least an hour after eating or drinking, and stop if you experience pain:

  1. Push all the breath out of your body.
  2. Take in a small breath and hold until you need more air.
  3. Take another small breath without breathing out.
  4. Repeat small breaths in without exhaling until you can’t breathe in anymore.
  5. Hold this breath for up to five seconds.
  6. Breathe all of the air out of your lungs forcefully.

Back Lying Exercise 

Before doing postural or positioning exercises, wait at least an hour after meals. Stop if you’re feeling sick or if the position is aggravating your heartburn. 

This position can help expel mucus from the lungs using gravity:

  1. Lie down on your back.
  2. Keep your head flat and bend your knees.
  3. Prop your hips up with pillows, so they’re higher than your chest.
  4. Hold this position for at least five minutes.
  5. Try taking some deep breaths if you feel up to it.

Side Lying Exercise 

Wait at least an hour after meals before doing this exercise, and stop if you’re feeling sick or having heartburn. This exercise can help push mucus out of the lungs using gravity:

  1. Lie down on your side.
  2. Keep your head flat, supporting it with your hands as needed.
  3. Prop up your hips with a pillow to be higher than your chest.
  4. Hold this position for at least five minutes.
  5. Take deep breaths if you can.
  6. Repeat lying on your other side.

Your doctor may recommend over-the-counter or home remedies or prescription medication to make you more comfortable and help you clear your lungs. Breathing exercises may also help.

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