5 Ways to Improve Quality of Life While Living with Lung Disease
Millions of people living with lung disease experience symptoms that diminish their quality of life. From shortness of breath and difficulty breathing to persistent, painful coughs, and recurrent pneumonia, the symptoms of lung diseases like COPD and emphysema make it hard to complete the simplest daily tasks. However, people living with lung disease don’t have to accept their symptoms lying down. With good self-management practices, lung disease patients can significantly improve their quality of life.
Here are five practices that improve daily life for people with lung disease:
Contracting an illness like the common cold or pneumonia exacerbates the symptoms of lung disease and increases the likelihood of complications. The CDC recommends that all adults over the age of 65 get vaccinated against pneumococcal disease, influenza, shingles, and whooping cough, but vaccinations is especially important for adults with lung disease. Individuals with lung disease should also avoid close contact with people who are sick, and take extra caution during cold and flu season.
When you struggle to breathe, it’s hard to achieve a good night’s rest. While patients may be limited in their ability to stop the breathlessness and coughing that wakes them at night, they can eliminate other factors that inhibit sleep quality and quantity. A supportive mattress is especially important, as a good mattress can relieve pressure points and support the spine to promote easier breathing no matter which position you sleep in. Individuals should also use mattress covers to limit exposure to allergens, and adopt good sleep hygiene habits to reduce risk factors for insomnia.
Filtering Indoor Air
Poor air quality irritates the respiratory system, but it’s not just smog that lung disease patients have to worry about. As CNBC reports, indoor air is often more polluted than outdoor air. This is due in large part to pollution emitted from indoor sources like building materials, furniture, paints, carpeting, and household cleaners. While some indoor contaminants are preventable, like mold and dust mites, others are a fact of modern life. However, individuals can improve indoor quality by filtering out contaminants. Some of the best ways to do so are changing furnace air filters on schedule, investing in higher-quality furnace air filters, maintaining ideal humidity, and using an air purifier in the home.
A clean home is a healthy home. A regular cleaning routine reduces indoor concentrations of contaminants like dust mites, pet dander, and pollen. This allows people with lung disease to breathe cleaner air, thereby reducing respiratory symptoms. In addition to cleaning soft and hard surfaces on a regular schedule, lung disease patients should purchase vacuum cleaners with HEPA filtration or remove carpeting entirely in favor of hard flooring. If it’s within the patient’s budget, a professional cleaning service keeps the home clean with minimal exertion.
Exercise is challenging for people with lung disease, but staying active and maintaining a healthy weight is especially important for individuals with respiratory conditions. Excess weight contributes to respiratory problems by making it even more difficult to breathe. Exercise, on the other hand, has been shown to strengthen respiratory muscles and slow the progression of lung diseases like COPD. When designing a fitness program, individuals with lung disease should emphasize aerobic exercise, like walking, jogging, and swimming. However, strength-training exercise is also important, as it improves overall functioning.
When you can’t breathe easily, every little task becomes a challenge. However, lung disease shouldn’t have to mean giving up the activities you enjoy or adopting an inactive lifestyle. With smart self-management practices like these, people with lung disease can enjoy the best quality of life possible.
This article is courtesy of Scott Sanders
Scott Sanders is the creator of CancerWell.org, which provides resources and support for anyone who has been affected by any form of cancer. He is also the author of the book Put Yourself First: A Guide to Self-care and Spiritual Wellness During and After Cancer Treatment.