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Respiratory System Health

Introduces ways to maintain health of the respiratory system.

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Extension - Respiratory System Health

Why sneeze into your elbow?

Sneezing into your elbow can help stop the spread of a respiratory illness, like the flu or common cold. If you sneeze into your hands, you may then spread germs when you touch a doorknob or other surfaces.

Keeping Your Respiratory System Healthy

Many of the diseases related to smoking are called lifestyle diseases; diseases that are caused by choices that people make in their daily lives. For example, the choice to smoke can lead to cancer and heart disease in later life. But you can make healthy choices instead. There are many things you can do to keep yourself healthy.

Avoid Smoking

Cigarette smoking can cause serious disease, so not smoking or quitting now are the most effective ways to reduce your risk of developing chronic respiratory diseases, such as lung cancer.

Eat Well, Exercise Regularly, and Get Rest

Eating healthy foods, getting enough sleep, and being active every day can help keep your cardiovascular system and immune system strong.

Wash Your Hands

Washing your hands often, especially after sneezing, coughing, or blowing your nose, helps to protect you and others from diseases. Washing your hands for 20 seconds with soap and warm water can help prevent colds and flu.

Some viruses and bacteria can live from 20 minutes to two hours or more on surfaces like cafeteria tables, doorknobs, and desks.

Avoid Contact with Others When Sick

Do not go to school or to other public places when you are sick. You risk spreading your illness to other people. You may also get even sicker if you catch something else.

Visit Your Doctor

Getting the recommended vaccinations can help prevent diseases, such as whooping cough and flu. Seeking medical help for diseases like asthma can help stop the disease from getting worse.


  • lifestyle disease: Disease that is caused by choices that people make in their daily lives.


  • Avoid smoking, get enough exercise, and wash your hands to protect your respiratory system from illness.
  • Getting the recommended vaccinations can help prevent diseases, such as whooping cough and flu.


Use the resources below to answer the questions that follow.

  1. Why are scientists studying the genetics of lung disease?
  2. What do scientists hope will come out of this research?
  3. How many areas of the genome have scientists found that are associated with COPD?
  4. Are these scientists engaged in basic or applied research? Explain your reasoning fully.
  1. How many days a year does Los Angeles have unhealthy air?
  2. What are the potential health effects of this air? Who is most at risk? Why do you think risk is higher for these groups?
  3. What are you supposed to do on days of unhealthy air?


  1. What are two things you can do to keep your respiratory system healthy?
  2. Explain how washing your hands can help you prevent catching a cold.

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