10 Tips for Staying Well with a Lung Condition
Let’s be honest. One of the things that people with lung conditions worry about the most is getting sick. We know that frequent flare-ups can worsen your condition by scarring the lungs and that prolonged bedrest leads to deconditioning. So, what are some things that we can due to prevent us from getting sick without seemingly looking like we are a “Nervous Nelly” all the time? I have some ideas that people with lung conditions can do to prevent from getting sick. I also want to give you some “red flags” on when you should call the doctor. Remember, you should never wait to be seen by a physician when you think you might have a lung infection. Waiting too long can cause you to have extended recovery times and possibly a hospital admission. It’s just not worth the added costs and downtime to put off going to the doctor.
Let’s get into it…
What can you do to prevent from getting sick?
***Remember, these aren’t “sure bets” that you won’t get sick but will give you the biggest odds for preventing an illness.***
1. Get your flu and pneumonia vaccine – People with lung conditions are in the “high risk” category when it comes to fighting viruses. This means you are more likely to suffer complications from getting the flu than the average healthy individual. Science has proven that getting these vaccines reduces your chance of getting flu or viral pneumonia. Yes, it is still possible that even with the flu shot that you can get the flu, yet physicians believe that the effects of the flu may not be as bad if you have had your flu shot.
2. Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth in public - The fastest way for you to become ill is to touch your face in public without washing your hands with soap and water first. Viruses love to invade your mucosa and get all warm and cozy only to invade your body with its terrible symptoms. Avoid biting your nails because it’s a natural habitat where germs live.
3. Avoid being around family and friends that are sick or have the flu.- We all want to be helpful to those that are sick but if you can avoid contact with people who are sick or have the flu you are doing yourself a service. Now as many of you know, I am a mom of 3 and sometimes my children get sick and (regardless of my germ phobia during flu season) I must take care of my kiddos. Those situations are unavoidable, but if grandkids and friends are “under the weather” wait to visit or hang out when they are feeling better.
4. When in large crowds or confined spaces consider wearing a mask – I have talked in the past about wearing a lightweight mask to avoid triggers. For that purpose, I think those masks work pretty well. However, in writing this blog, one of the things I have learned about is the Vogmask. The difference between the two is the Vogmask protects you from particulate matter that can be floating in the air. According to their website the Vogmask protects someone from airborne particles such as dust, allergens, post combustion particles, germs, shavings, biologics, odors, scents, mold, mold spores, and particles in wildfire smoke. Essentially it can protect to you from everything the lightweight mask can do and more. My recommendation is if you plan on traveling by plane or train or want a more thorough way of filtering the environmental air you breathe when you are out and about, the Vogmask is a great option.
5. Wash your hands often. Use warm water and soap to clean your hands. Try and scrub your hands with the soap for at least 20 seconds. Get in between your fingers and underneath your nails where "bugs” can hide. Use a paper towel to turn off the faucet when you are done. Although not always effective, use hand sanitizer if you don’t have a sink nearby and must touch your face.
6. Consider herbal and other immune system boosting supplements BUT ASK YOUR DOCTOR FIRST. Many people will increase their intake of Vitamin C and Echinacea during cold and flu season to help boost their immune system. Some people swear by herbal teas and zinc for the prevention of colds but be careful of possible side effects like upset stomach. Remember just because a supplement can be all natural doesn’t mean that it is right for you to take or won’t interfere with other medications that you might be taking.
7. Keep it clean. Make sure you periodically clean surfaces in your home and at work that get touched often. Some examples of this are doorknobs, keyboards, and phones. Bacteria and viruses can live on these surfaces for extended periods of time, so making sure they are cleaned periodically can help to prevent the spread of colds, flu and other illnesses. When using disinfectants read the labels and follows the instructions carefully. If you are sensitive to odors, you may want to wear a mask while using any disinfectant that may potentially trigger you to have shortness of breath.
8. Get plenty of rest. When we are overtired, we compromise our bodies natural ability to fight off infection. Try to maintain a normal sleep schedule and/or take naps when you need them. Getting plenty of ZZZ’s will keep you in top germ fighting shape.
9. Eat plenty of Fruits and Vegetables – (Remember that Superfoods blog?) Fruits and vegetables help support our immune systems by fighting off free radicals and providing your body with antioxidants and vitamins.
10. Exercise often – Exercise not only improves your physical strength and endurance, but it can also improve the strength of your immune system. In a study published by The American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine in 2016, they concluded that “regular moderate activity is particularly beneficial for immune enhancement and reducing the risk of infection.” So, get your sweat on!
When should you call your doctor? (This is NOT an all-inclusive list)
1. Increased shortness of breath, wheezing, or coughing
2. Tightness in the chest that won’t go away
3. Chest pain
4. Mucus that has increased in amount, that has changed color, or is bloody
5. Increased fatigue
6. Increased swelling of the feet, ankles, or hands
7. A fever, chills, or dizziness
8. Friends are noticing that you are more forgetful, confused, or sleepy
9. Are feeling more irritable or short tempered and/or noticing changes in your personality
10. Sudden increase in weight of 2-3 lb. in a couple of days
11. Your oxygen saturations will not stay greater than or equal to 90% on your prescribed
oxygen liter flow.
12. Severe vomiting
13. You are not urinating
14. No appetite
Thanks for Reading and Stay Healthy!
If you enjoyed this blog, I invite you to check out some of the topics I have covered in the past
Remember: We are in this TOGETHER!
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