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  • Staying Healthy

    We all know we should eat right, exercise, reduce stress, drink more water, get a good night’s sleep. But for those with a respiratory disease or condition, staying healthy has a few more challenges.

    Quit Smoking

    Every year, three million smokers give up cigarettes. With the right attitude, preparation, and knowledge, you can be one of them. The main step in the process of quitting is deciding to start.

    Stay active

    Inactivity can lead to muscle wasting, weakening of the heart, and mental depression. Daily activity helps your body function more efficiently and keeps you mentally alert.

    It's easier to stay active if you simplify work and other activities in order to save energy. Eliminate unnecessary tasks. Break activities down into steps and alternate them with frequent periods of rest. It's best to plan ahead and avoid rushing.

    Continue with a regular exercise program after graduation from pulmonary rehab. One easy, convenient, and inexpensive form of exercise is walking.

    Watch your diet

    Food provides your body with energy. It's important to eat a healthy variety of foods to help your body function at its best.

    Try to maintain a normal weight. If you're underweight, you will have less energy stores to pull from. If overweight, your heart has to work harder and you will experience more shortness of breath.

    If your doctor orders a special diet, stick to it. Avoid "gassy" foods that bloat your stomach and make it harder to breathe. It's especially important to limit your salt intake if you tend to retain fluids. If eating tires you, eat smaller meals more frequently. If you are on oxygen, use it with meals.

    Drink plenty of fluids

    Drink three to four quarts of liquid per day unless your doctor advises otherwise. This will keep your mucus thin and easier to cough up.

    Relax

    Fatigue and tension can contribute to shortness of breath, so take time each day to relax, both physically and mentally. Take naps if you feel the need. Rest mentally by listening to soothing music or by doing something else you find relaxing. If you have difficulty relaxing, consult your doctor.

    Avoid problems

    Your ability to recognize and avoid those things causing you problems may be the most important aspect of your self-care. Here are some tips that could help keep you out of trouble:

    Prevent Infection-Infections can cause further lung damage, decrease your lungs' ability to function, and increase mucus production. Therefore, keep your resistance high by eating properly and getting enough rest. Avoid crowds during the cold and flu seasons, and avoid close contact with others who are sick. Be sure to keep home respiratory equipment clean (dirty aerosol and oxygen equipment can carry germs). If you use a room humidifier, clean it often because this type of device can become a breeding ground for germs.

    Be Aware of Signs of Infection-If you suspect that you have an infection, call your doctor immediately. Some signs of infection include fever, chills, chest tightness, increased shortness of breath, and a change in the color or amount of mucus.

    Avoid Contact With Irritants- Many things may irritate your lungs and make breathing more difficult. Some common irritants include smoke, dust, smog, fumes, aerosol sprays, cold air, excessive humidity, pollens, certain foods, and animals.

    Look For Other Signs of Trouble Some things will alert you to more serious problems. Call your doctor immediately if you encounter the sudden development of swollen ankles or have frequent headaches, dizzy spells, confusion, disorientation, or slurred speech.

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