6 Ways to Manage Your Health When You Have Pulmonary Fibrosis

Patrícia Silva, PhD avatar

by Patrícia Silva, PhD |

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Keeping yourself healthy can feel impossible sometimes, especially if you have pulmonary fibrosis (PF). However, the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation suggests a few lifestyle changes that can improve your quality of life.

1. Exercise
You may feel tempted to exercise as little as possible to avoid feeling short of breath or fatigued but that’s the worst approach you can take. Think of the whole respiratory system as a muscle — if you don’t use your muscles, they’ll atrophy and never reach their full potential and the same goes for your lungs. Exercise gives you a bigger lung capacity and teaches you how to make every breath as efficient as possible. It’s a good idea to discuss this with your doctor as pulmonary rehabilitation is always preferred to unsupervised exercise.

2. Rest and relax
Nowadays life’s more stressful than ever and we barely have any time to ourselves, but it’s important to remember you need it. You should always get the recommended amount of sleep for your age group, as it’ll help your immune system stay strong. Stress will also attack your body’s natural defenses. You need to find a small bit of time in your day to relax as anxiety and depression are very serious and real threats for someone suffering from PF.

MOREFour breathing exercises for pulmonary fibrosis

3. Eat well
You might think you don’t eat all that bad, but that doesn’t mean you eat well. Junk food doesn’t help your health in any way. Swapping it for healthier choices like vegetables, fruits, fish and foods that are low in cholesterol and fat, can make a very big difference. Some also suggest eating smaller meals more often, so that your stomach never gets too full, which can make it harder to breathe. If you do decide to change your diet, you should consult with either your doctor or a nutritionist before you begin.

4. Don’t smoke
This should be obvious but if you have PF and are still smoking, it’s important to stop. Quitting might require quite a bit of help, but smoking is one of the worst things you can do if you have a disease that affects your respiratory system. If you don’t smoke or are currently quitting please remember that secondhand smoke is just as bad, so speak with your family, friends or coworkers and explain the situation so they’ll know not to smoke around you.

MORECigarette smoking linked to interstitial lung diseases, IPF

5. Maintain a strong support network
Shortness of breath may make you feel tempted to stay home and isolate yourself, but don’t. You’ll need time for yourself and it’s important to know your limits, but it’s just as important to stay in touch with friends and family. Depression is a very big risk to PF patients, and feelings of malaise can be exacerbated by isolation. It’s also a good idea to see if there’s a support group in your neighborhood that you can join. To have other people that either know exactly what you’re going trough or are experiencing similar problems can be incredibly comforting. There you can share aspects of the disease that you might not be comfortable discussing in other places.

6. Stay positive
This is often the hardest part for most patients. Be positive, have hope, tell yourself “today might not have been the best, but I’ll try again tomorrow.”

This will be the most exhausting, demanding, and challenging to accomplish. It will take more out of you than any other step we mentioned here, but it will also be the one that gets you through the rougher days and helps you cope.

MOREHow having something positive to look forward to can help you manage PF

Note: Pulmonary Fibrosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Fibrosis News, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary fibrosis.