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Lung Health: What Factors Influence Lung Capacity?

In this article, we discuss how our bodies, environment, and lifestyle choices influence our lung capacity.

Lung Health: What Factors Influence Lung Capacity?

Lung Health: Presence of certain diseases can lower our lung capacity

The total volume of air that can be held in your lungs is known as your lung capacity. As we become older, our lung function and capacity usually decline gradually after our mid-20s. An average adult breathes between 12 and 15 times per minute under normal circumstances. An inspiration and an expiration make up one respiratory cycle, which is referred to as a breath. 

The process of measuring the amount of air that enters and leaves the lungs is known as spirometry, and a device called a spirometer is employed to accomplish so. Because they might provide details about the health of the lungs, respiratory volumes are a crucial component of pulmonary function tests. 

The total of two or more volumes is the respiratory capacity, also known as pulmonary capacity.  The typical lung volume in healthy persons is around 6 litres. The size and function of the lungs are influenced by a variety of variables, including age, sex, body type, and physical condition. Early adulthood is often when lung capacity peaks, after which it declines with age.

Here are some factors that have been proven to influence lung capacity:

1. Health conditions 

Certain health conditions also greatly influence your lung capacity. Reduced lung compliance and diminished chest wall expansion are the underlying pathophysiologies of reduced TLC in patients with restrictive lung disease. These people's lungs can't fully expand, which reduces the amount of air they can inhale. The TLC, FRC, and RV are diminished as a result of a decrease in lung compliance. Pectus excavatum, kyphoscoliosis, myasthenia gravis, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis are a few examples of restrictive lung disease.

2. Obesity

Obesity is linked to comorbidities among people and is recognised to have a number of negative effects on a person's health. In addition, obesity results in lower TLC on pulmonary function tests and has features of a restrictive lung disease pattern. In patients who are morbidly obese, weight loss has been demonstrated to reverse lower lung volumes, therefore it should be promoted.

3. Influence of sex and obesity 

Due to the differences in central and peripheral fat distribution between men and women, obesity-related reduced lung volumes are more common in men than in women. The higher mass of adipose tissue on the chest wall, which reduces compliance, is assumed to be the proposed mechanism, while greater abdominal adipose tissue restricts the expansion of the diaphragm during inhalation, which lowers TLC, ERV, and FRC.

4. Ageing

As you age, your body goes through a number of natural changes that could result in a reduction in lung capacity. The diaphragm, for example, can become weaker. Your airways may become a little bit smaller as a result of the suppleness of the lung tissue that helps keep them open deteriorating. Additionally, the bones in your rib cage may shift and shrink, which reduces the space available for your lungs to expand.

5. Smoking

Lowered lung capacity, lung cancer, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which encompasses chronic bronchitis and emphysema, are all primarily caused by cigarette smoking. Breathing can become more challenging due to cigarette smoke's ability to constrict airways. It results in persistent lung edoema or inflammation, which can cause chronic bronchitis. Cigarette smoke damages lung tissue over time and could lead to cancerous changes.

6. Air pollution

Home and workplace pollutants and secondhand smoke can all start or exacerbate lung illness. Eliminate smoking from your car and home. Check for the air quality in your house. Exercise indoors on days with poor air quality. And if you're concerned that something at home, school, or work might be making you unwell, speak with your healthcare physician.

Some of the other factors are:

  • TLC rapidly rises from infancy to adolescence and reaches a plateau at the age of 25. 
  • Males typically have higher TLC than females.
  • Taller people often have higher TLC than shorter people
  • People with a higher waist-to-hip ratio typically have lower TLC. 
  • TLC is lower in people of African heritage than in people of European descent

Keep these points in mind and try to alter the factors you can to maintain a good lung capacity. 

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Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for a qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.


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