While you can’t cure pulmonary fibrosis, there are a variety of things you can do to maintain a good quality of life and stay as healthy as possible.
Maintaining Your Weight
- People who are overweight or underweight have a harder time managing their PF.
- If you are overweight, it can create more pressure on your lungs which can make it even harder to breathe. It also increases your risk for other diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.
- If you are underweight, you may have less energy, which leads to weakening of the muscles that help with breathing. It can also put you at risk for diseases such as osteoporosis.
- It’s also important to know that being overweight or underweight can affect your eligibility for a lung transplant]
- How do you know what is the right weight? Doctors will often refer to BMI or body mass index which is a measure of body fat based on your height and weight. You can calculate your own BMI and talk with your doctor about what your goal weight should be and how to get there.
Nutrition Tips for PF
- Eat a diet low in sodium (salt), added sugars, saturated and trans fat.
- Try and get most of your calories from lean meats and fish, fruits, whole grains, beans, vegetables and low-fat dairy products.
- If you are having a hard time gaining or maintaining your weight, try nutritional shakes or add healthy fats such as olive oil to your food.
- If you have acid reflux, avoid acidic foods such as citrus, coffee and tomatoes. Do not eat within 3 hours of your bedtime. Talk with your doctor about medication that can help.
- Eat smaller, more frequent meals to avoid getting too full, which can make it harder to breathe.
- Drink lots of water, especially when you are exercising.
- Some medications may have diarrhea as a side effect. Eating a bland diet, made up of bananas, rice, applesauce and toast (sometimes called the BRAT diet), can help. Always talk to your doctor about any side effects you are experiencing.
- Ask for a referral to a registered dietitian who can give you specific pointers for managing your diet.
It helps your overall health but more importantly it fights depression and isolation.
Reduce Your Stress
- Just because depression and anxiety are common, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tell your doctor about it. Be open with your doctor about how you are feeling so they can help.
- Connect with others in your shoes. Join an online support community.
- Exercise can help improve your mood and reduce stress.
- Managing your side effects will help you feel better physically and mentally. Ask to see a palliative care professional who can help you maintain a good quality of life.
- Try to see friends, leave the house regularly and participate in your hobbies. Using oxygen therapycan help you continue to do what makes you happy with less shortness of breath.
- Practice relaxation techniques like meditation and [breathing exercises
- Listen to your body. Push yourself to be as active as you can but also rest when your body needs it.
- Ask for help with chores. Set up a caregiving calendar) to let people know what you need.
- There are medications available that can help with depression and anxiety. Talk to your doctor to find out if medication is right for you.
- Talk to a counselor or therapist. Your doctor can recommend a healthcare professional who can help you work through your emotions.
Talk to Your Doctor
Don’t Smoke Cigarette smoking is the major cause of lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease COPD, which includes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Cigarette smoke can narrow the air passages and make breathing more difficult. It causes chronic inflammation, or swelling in the lung, which can lead to chronic bronchitis. Over time cigarette smoke destroys lung tissue and may trigger changes that grow into cancer. If you smoke, it’s never too late to benefit from quitting.
Avoid Exposure to Indoor Pollutants That Can Damage Your Lungs Secondhand smoke, chemicals in the home and workplace, and radon all can cause or worsen lung disease. Make your home and car smokefree. Test your home for [radon]Avoid exercising outdoors on bad air days. And talk to your healthcare provider if you are worried that something in your home, school or work may be making you sick.
Minimize Exposure to Outdoor Air Pollution The air quality outside can vary from day to day and sometimes is unhealthy to breathe. Knowing how outdoor air pollution affects your health and useful strategies to minimize prolonged exposure can help keep you and your family well.
Prevent Infection A cold or other respiratory infection can sometimes become very serious. There are several things you can do to protect yourself:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water. Alcohol-based cleaners are a good substitute if you cannot wash.
- Avoids crowds during the cold and flu season.
- Good oral hygiene can protect you from the germs in your mouth leading to infections. Brush your teeth at least twice daily and see your dentist at least every six months.
- Get vaccinated every year against influenza. Talk to your healthcare provider to find out if the pneumonia vaccine is right for you.
- If you get sick, keep it to yourself! Protect the people around you, including your loved ones, by keeping your distance. Stay home from work or school until you’re feeling better.
Get Regular Healthcare Regular check-ups help prevent diseases, even when you are feeling well. This is especially true for lung disease, which sometimes goes undetected until it is serious. During a check-up, your healthcare provider will listen to your breathing and listen to your concerns. If you need health insurance, learn more about your options.
Exercise Aerobic exercise helps improve your lung capacity. Specific breathing exercises can also help improve your lung function if you have certain lung diseases, like COPD. Exercise and breathing techniques are also great for improving your mood and helping you relax.