BY SANDRA GUY
Surely at this stage of our experience with COVID-19 and the highly transmissible Delta variant, we’re experts on our respiratory system’s critical importance to our health.
We could never have imagined two years ago that an Aug. 27 news story would detail how an unvaccinated schoolteacher in California removed her mask “on occasion” to read aloud to her class, resulting in half of her 24 students testing positive for COVID-19, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s despite the fact that the students’ desks were placed six feet apart, windows were left open, and all classrooms had high-efficiency air filters.
So besides being hyper-vigilant about wearing masks indoors and keeping a proper distance from others, how can we help ensure that our respiratory systems stay strong?
One helpful tool is peppermint essential oil, which can be used as a dietary supplement or in aromatherapy as a liquid extract.
Also, breathing in steam from hot water mixed with a few drops of peppermint oil can help open nasal passages. The menthol in peppermint works as a decongestant, shrinking swollen membranes in the nose and making it easier to breathe, and also helps loosen mucus in the lungs.
Inhaling small amounts of menthol from peppermint essential oil affects receptors in the nasal mucous membranes, promoting clearer breathing pathways.
There’s no better time to realize peppermint’s benefits than October, deemed Healthy Lung Month by the American Lung Association and several health advocacy organizations.
It’s a time to take stock of bad habits such as vaping, smoking, lack of exercise and being exposed regularly to exhaust and air pollution.
And even more importantly, a healthy respiratory system can guard against COVID-19.
Evidence has shown that smokers are likely to be more vulnerable to COVID-19 since they have reduced lung capacity, health experts say.
As with COVID, you need to be vigilant about good hygiene. That means washing your hands often with soap and water, brushing your teeth at least twice a day and seeing a dentist at least once every six months, and staying home and away from crowds if you have a cold.
Another key to respiratory health is to get a yearly flu shot.
If a COVID vaccine becomes available soon for children 11 and younger, doctors say to make sure to get the flu shot and the COVID vaccination at least two weeks apart.
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