Cystic fibrosis is a rare genetic disorder that affects how your body produces mucus. When you have this condition, the mucus becomes thick and sticky. Over time, this substance obstructs your airways, making breathing difficult.
According to the National Organization for Rare Diseases,approximately 30,000 individuals in the United States have this condition. Although cystic fibrosis doesn’t have a cure, you can take steps to reduce the severity and frequency of the disease, as well as enhance your quality of life.
Here are a few tips to help you live well when you have this condition:
- Explore Your Treatment Options
Most individuals with cystic fibrosis undergo existing treatments administered by a team of health care professionals, including doctors, nurses, dietitians and physical therapists.
A few main treatments for this disease include the following:
- Pulmonary Rehabilitation (PR) – This treatment helps your lungs work better. A PR program typically consists of breathing techniques, cystic fibrosis education and nutritional guidance.
- Surgery – Complications, such as mucus blockages in the intestines, require surgery.
- Oxygen Therapy – This treatment helps prevent pulmonary hypertension and gives you the extra oxygen to help you breathe more easily.
Sometimes, people with cystic fibrosis participate in clinical trials to find treatment for the underlying causes of the disease. They, for instance, look for an organization that recruits patients with rare disorders. When these patients participate, they get an opportunity to try out an experimental treatment or drug that could improve their condition.
Whatever treatment option you choose, make sure you discuss your decision with a qualified medical professional.
- Work Out Regularly
Doctors recommend exercise for individuals with cystic fibrosis. Working out helps clear out the mucus that’s in your lungs. What’s more, it fortifies your heart and muscles. You’ll be able to perform everyday tasks easily when you feel strong.
When coming up with a workout plan, choose activities that you love to do and keep you moving. A few examples include playing basketball, hiking and jogging around your neighborhood.
Alternatively, you can get in touch with your care team to find out the workout regimen that works best for you. Try to do moderate workouts for about 20 minutes per day.
- Follow a Balanced Diet
Cystic fibrosis can cause glue-like mucus to accumulate in your digestive tract. This could prevent you from obtaining the nutrients you need, such as minerals, vitamins and fats.
What’s more, your pancreas won’t function properly when you have this rare disease. This organ is unable to produce the enzymes necessary to help digest food.
People who have this rare disease will need to consume a balanced diet consisting of fruits, veggies, dairy, protein and fat. You can achieve this goal by adding the following to your diet:
- Antioxidants – Vegetables and fruits are rich sources of antioxidants. They’re vital for fending off bacterial infection. If you’re going to eat these foods, opt for the unprocessed variety. If you like oranges, for instance, don’t just go for orange juice with pulp. Consume a fresh orange along with other fruits or vegetables.
- Protein – Food products, such as fish, beef, chicken and soy, are vital for preventing muscle loss.
- Iron – Iron-rich foods, such as beef, liver and tuna, help combat infection and produce red blood cells that transport oxygen into different parts of the body.
- Calcium – Minimize your risk of developing osteoporosis, a health concern for people with cystic fibrosis, by consuming dairy products like whole milk and high-fat cheese.
If you’re not sure about the type of food that you can and cannot eat, reach out to a dietitian
2 – Take Measures to Avoid Lung Infections
Individuals with cystic fibrosis are more likely to develop severe lung infections, as the mucus can build up inside the organ and allow germs to thrive and spread to other parts of the body.
You can minimize the likelihood of getting an infection by taking the following precautionary measures:
- Get a flu shot every year.
- Wash your hands regularly, especially after you cough, sneeze, use the toilet and touch surfaces in public areas.
- When you sneeze or cough, cover your mouth using a tissue. Then, dispose of the used tissue properly and wash your hands.
3 – Take Care of Your Mental Health
Although your physical health takes center stage, you shouldn’t neglect your emotional health, as well. Given that you’re managing a chronic or ongoing disease, you may face lots of anxiety and stress in your life. If you’re feeling anxious or depressed, work with a psychologist or mental health professional.
Although cystic fibrosis is a serious and progressive disease, you can still live a healthy and full life. Apply these lifestyle tips to help you manage this rare condition and stay as healthy as possible.