What's In This Article
Pulmonary fibrosis can be a difficult condition to live with. We’re here to make it easier.
Pulmonary fibrosis is a restrictive lung disease that develops primarily as a result of exposure to tobacco smoke or other harmful airborne particulates.
The symptoms of the disease can frankly be devastating to one’s quality of life, causing shortness of breath, issues of fatigue and most notably scarring within the lungs.
Needless to say, this can be particularly challenging when trying to maintain your standard of living.
Reduced mobility can mean less time spent with family. Less time spent with friends. And less time maintaining one’s health. When confronting pulmonary fibrosis and its effects, it’s important to have a plan after your initial diagnosis.
Although there are a variety of available treatment options, getting through your day-to-day without the dependence of medication is a quality of life worth pursuing.
For that reason alone, with your health in mind, the Lung Institute is here to breakdown the process of Coping with Pulmonary Fibrosis: 4 Tips for Breathing Better.
4. Quit Smoking and Exercise
No matter how many times we’ve said this before, we’ll continue to say it again and again; it’s just that important: quit smoking.
If you’ve been diagnosed with a chronic lung disease like pulmonary fibrosis or you’re experiencing marked declines in your respiratory health (you’re feeling out of breath more than usual), the cigarettes you’re smoking aren’t helping.
In fact, they’re making the presentation and progression of your symptoms considerably worse.
We understand developing the habit of smoking has taken years, in many cases even decades, but trust us when we say that although the road to quitting may be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do, it’s easily one of the best decisions you can make for your life and health.
In terms of exercising, start small. You don’t have to worry about running a marathon tomorrow so take your time and think baby steps instead of a full sprint. Take a walk around the block and repeat this daily for a month.
After a month, walk a little farther. Then a little farther the month after that. Before you know it, your lungs will be functioning better than they used to, and you’ll feel proud about the steps you’ve taken to change your health (pun intended).
3. Improve Your Diet
Changing your diet is both one of the easiest and hardest things to do within this list. It’s an easy task in the sense that it simply requires purchasing different foods, cooking them differently, and eating them.
The hard part is willing yourself to eat the things you’re unfamiliar with. We do it all the times with our favorite restaurants. Usually, once we find something we like, we stick to eating that specific thing until we get tired of it.
At that point, we just go back to an old favorite thing or find something similar somewhere else.
And though change is hard—particularly the older we get—it’s crucial to development. At this point, the development of your health.
As with nearly every other aspect of your health, proper nutrition is paramount to your body having everything that it needs to function correctly.
If there’s a part of your body that needs to be healed, the vitamins and nutrients that you consume have a direct effect on whether and how fast that part of the body gets healed.
So, take our advice on crafting your own lung disease diet here and start the process of eating and feeling better.
2. Start Doing Breathing Exercises
Physical exercise isn’t the only type of exercise that’s useful for those coping with pulmonary fibrosis—it helps to start from within.
Although there are a variety of techniques that can be used, the pursed-lips breathing technique is often recommended as the primary breathing exercise for those with pulmonary fibrosis.
Here’s a quick overview of the technique:
- Relax your neck and shoulders.
- Inhale slowly through the nostrils for two seconds (keep your mouth closed), a deep breath is unnecessary as a normal breath will do just fine.
- Exhale through the mouth for four seconds (the extended time is the key). When exhaling, pucker your mouth as if giving a kiss.
- While breathing out, keep a slow and steady breath; don’t breathe out hard.
To feel the effects of this, you’ll need to commit to doing it often to get the technique down. So, take a deep breath, and get started.
1. Meditation is Key
Speaking of taking a deep breath, meditation is just as important to the mind as eating the right foods is to the body. Though many people see meditation as something that requires direct instruction in order to be successful, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
In fact, real meditation can be done literally anywhere, from sitting at home to standing on a crowded bus. All it takes is a conscious mind to separate thoughts of the future and past and instead to ground oneself in the present.
We’ll explain. Meditation isn’t saying the right “ohm” words and chanting with a bald head. In its simplest form, it’s just recognizing and grounding oneself in the present moment.
Often times are thoughts are drawn to negative feelings about the future or the past and this has a tendency to affect our present in the same negative light.
Instead, meditation emphasizes being aware of the moment, the temperature in the air, the songs of birds around your house, or the quiet hum of the air conditioner in the car.
- Sit down in a comfortable position and set a timer for ten minutes.
- Feel free to put some soothing and low-volume music on (preferably without lyrics)
- Close your eyes and don’t open them until the timer goes off.
- During this time, try to remain still and only focus on your breathing and how your body feels
- If you have an itch, notice it and let it go.
- If your mind wanders to what you need to do later in the day, acknowledge it and return to the present moment and how your body feels.
- After your ten-minute timer goes off, you’re free to open your eyes and end the session.
- Repeat this every day without exception.
A healthier mind is just as important to your overall health as a healthier body. So, take 10 minutes from your day and put it towards living in the moment.
Christine Kingsley, APRN is the Health and Wellness Director at the Lung Institute where she focuses on providing helpful online resources for people looking for information on various lung diseases, breathing exercises, and healthy lifestyle choices. She advocates for holistic care that involves working with your doctor to explore all options including traditional and alternative care while focusing on diet and exercise as proactive measures.