Living With Pulmonary Fibrosis
Although living with pulmonary fibrosis can be difficult at times, following a treatment plan can help improve the symptoms and even slow the progression of the disease. It is important that you are not exposed to cigarette smoke (and do not smoke) and receive appropriate medical care. You can also join a support group to help you cope with having pulmonary fibrosis.
There is currently no cure for pulmonary fibrosis. It is important to understand that your symptoms may get worse over time. As your symptoms get worse, you may not be able to do many of the things that you did before you had pulmonary fibrosis.
If you're still smoking, the most important thing you can do is stop. Ask your healthcare provider or nurse about smoking cessation programs and products that can help. It is also important to avoid secondhand smoke as well. Ask family members and friends not to smoke in front of you or in your home, car, or workplace.
Ongoing medical care is also important. Treatment by a pulmonologist who specializes in pulmonary fibrosis is usually recommended. These specialists are usually located at major medical centers.
Treatment may relieve your symptoms and even slow or stop the fibrosis (scarring). Following your treatment plan is very important. You should:
- Take your medicines as your healthcare provider prescribes
- Make any changes in diet or exercise that your healthcare provider recommends
- Keep all of your appointments with your healthcare provider
- Enroll in pulmonary rehabilitation.
You should try to be as active as you can for both your physical and mental health. This can help you maintain your strength and lung function and reduce stress. Try moderate exercise, such as walking or riding a stationary bike. You may need to ask your healthcare provider about using oxygen while you exercise.
As your condition advances, you may need to use a wheelchair or motorized scooter, or stay busy with activities that aren't physical in nature. When your condition worsens, you may need oxygen full time. Some people with pulmonary fibrosis carry portable oxygen when they go out.
You should also follow a healthy diet. Eating smaller, more frequent meals may relieve stomach fullness, which can make it difficult to breathe. If you need help with your diet, ask your healthcare provider to arrange for a dietitian to work with you.
Getting plenty of rest can increase your energy and help you deal with the stress of living with a serious disease like pulmonary fibrosis. Maintain a positive attitude. Practicing relaxation techniques may help you do this. It may also help you avoid excessive oxygen intake caused by tension or overworked muscles.
It may also be helpful to join a support group to help you adjust to living with pulmonary fibrosis. Talk to others who have the same symptoms so you can see how they're coping. To find a local support group, check your telephone directory or contact the Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis or the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation.
It is also important to avoid situations that can make your symptoms worse, such as traveling by air or living at or traveling to high altitudes where the air is thin and the amount of oxygen in the air is low.