According to doctors, if your lungs aren’t working properly, it can affect the rest of your body – including your heart and your blood pressure. So here’s the 411 on some common lung problems.

  • Asthma. People with asthma usually have really sensitive bronchi – those are the tubes that help you breathe. And that means your lungs become easily irritated – by things like allergies or heavy breathing during exercise – causing you to cough and wheeze. So how can you tell if you have asthma? You should see your doctor if you cough a lot or frequently have trouble breathing. You may also want to try popping a couple of fish oil pills – a recent study found that people with asthma who took fish oil boosted their lung function by 60 percent.
  • Bronchitis. This is an infection in your bronchial tubes. If it isn’t treated, it can cause everything from chest pain to breathing problems. What are the symptoms? See your doctor if you’re wheezing or coughing up large amounts of mucus. But if you want temporary relief, turn on your shower as hot as it can go, close your bathroom door, and sit in the steam for 20 minutes. One study found that steam helps clear the mucus out of your lungs.
  • Lung cancer. Although doctors can’t always pinpoint the cause of some lung cancers, study after study has shown that smoking greatly increases your risk for this painful – and often deadly – disease. What are the symptoms of lung cancer? See your doctor if you have a persistent cough, shortness of breath, or clubbed fingernails – that’s when your fingers and nails are extremely swollen.

If you’d like more information on keeping your lungs healthy, check out the website lung.org. Kinda brings new meaning to the phrase ‘save your breath,’ doesn’t it?