Children are so integral to our lives. As adults, we often want to do everything possible to protect them. Cystic Fibrosis is a disease that is diagnosed during childhood, making it feel overwhelming to parents who are trying to give their child the best quality of life. When getting a new diagnosis, it can be devastating and feel unmanageable. However, there are some strategies to fighting the disease. Good health practices can help to extend the life for a child or adult.
Come up with a health plan
The first step when dealing with a cystic fibrosis diagnosis is initiating a health plan. Like many other conditions, a proactive and preventative approach is the best strategy to living a healthy life. What can you do to be proactive? Maintaining a health plan can manage symptoms, concurrent conditions, and prepare for new situations properly. Regular visits and home treatment will decrease the chances of an infection. To start a health plan, a team of health professionals should be chosen. Look at the backgrounds of the health professionals and interview them to understand their experience with cystic fibrosis cases. Once you have chosen a team, build a treatment plan. This plan will be based on the specific health needs of the patient. It is likely that this health plan will encompass many health treatments and doctors. Some of the treatments may include: respiratory therapy, digestive therapy, and medication. These treatments, such as antibiotics or postural drainage, will keep an infection at bay. As such, the best treatment plans are generally executed at cystic fibrosis care centers.
Visit your doctor regularly
Since cystic fibrosis is chronic, visiting a doctor frequently may feel like a challenge. Doctor visits are one of the best ways to be proactive about the condition. Doctors can check for lung infections, monitor weight and development, conduct lab tests, and other monitoring techniques. They may also be able to address your concerns and teach you how to prevent symptoms. Feeling at ease with your doctor and having consistency on your medical team will help during hospitalizations and emergency situations.
Since cystic fibrosis flares when an infection in the lungs occurs, preventing any other diseases is vital to staying healthy. Other diseases can attack vital organs, such as the liver, kidneys, and heart. Along with your health plan, a schedule of immunizations should be organized. This schedule will detail the proper ages for an immunization. A cystic fibrosis patient will benefit from all the recommended shots. To prevent further lung issues, pneumococcal shots are also recommended. As new treatments and immunizations become available, you may want to discuss all the options with your doctor.
Respiratory systems are crucial to breathing properly. In a person with cystic fibrosis, the lungs are the most affected area of the body. Respiratory therapy slows down lung damage and improves the ability to breathe. By accessing treatment, you can reduce infection and get rid of mucus in the lungs. Therapy can show patients different exercises and techniques to remove or cough up mucus. This is a technique called airway clearance. Chest clapping is another technique that involves pounding the chest and back. There are electric clappers, as well as other tools that may help where human tendencies will falter. Breathing strategies and coaching may help increase the oxygen flow where the mucus has decreased the airway. Where therapy cannot provide enough relief to the airway, oxygen tanks can be necessary.
Antibiotics and Medications
If therapy cannot suppress mucus and infections, then medication is the next best method. Of the medications out there, antibiotics are a tool to suppress infections. Many patients take antibiotics on a regular basis to eliminate infections proactively. The only caveat is that a person can develop resistance to antibiotics. This means that being vigilant about the response to the medication is crucial. Beyond antibiotics, there are several medications on the market to lessen symptoms or causes. Medicines are useful in removing mucus and controlling the thickness of mucus. These include mucus thinners. Bronchodilators dilate the bronchi to assist breathing. Steroids eliminate nasal polyps that block breathing through the nose. There are also allergy medications to limit impact from seasonal allergies. Keeping dust and other contaminants away from cystic fibrosis patients can limit the chances of a respiratory outbreak. Anti inflammatory medications can take away the inflammation in the lungs.
Digestive therapy can improve the health of a person with cystic fibrosis by helping with the adsorption of enzymes. Enzymes are vital to ensure your body get nutrients. There are several digestive therapies out there to help those with cystic fibrosis. Digestive enzyme replacement works by targeting adsorption in the intestines. Common enzymes are Crean or Pancreaze. Nutritional therapy may help replace nutrients that could not get absorbed. Vitamin A, D, E and other supplements are common. In some cases, intravenous supplementation is necessary. To aid constipation, stool softeners might be required.
Keeping a healthy diet
Since cystic fibrosis causes digestive issues, eating a proper diet can decrease the chances of irritation in the digestive system. Diet also helps regulation of glucose, which is important for the endocrine system. Some cystic fibrosis patients can develop diabetes from the changes in glucose and sugar levels. Therefore, it is important to maintain steady levels always. Heartburn is more common for people with cystic fibrosis. Fatty or greasy foods may cause heartburn, so a patient might want to avoid them. Avoiding foods that create mucus is vital because mucus is detrimental to the lungs for a CF patient. Foods that frequently cause mucus are: eggs, fish, milk, tree nuts, peanuts, shellfish, wheat, and soy. It is important that the diet include foods that have a lot of nutrients. A diet high in salt also helps when there is a loss of absorption. In some cases, a feeding tube may assist with adsorption of nutrients.
Transplants are a complicated option to fighting CF. A transplant can remove a diseased lung and replace it with a healthy lung. However, there are long wait times for transplant. Unfortunately, this makes this option hard to depend on. Complicating the matter further is that patient’s body can reject the transplant. This means that a solution that seemed permanent, can put you back at square one.
The last part of fighting cystic fibrosis is the mental and emotional component of the disease. It might be hard to comprehend your child facing a serious illness. Feeling despair is totally normal. Keeping your spirits up and that of the child is crucial to quality of life. There are therapists that specialize in dealing with cystic fibrosis. There are also support groups out there for both children and parents. Utilize the resources around you to help keep your family calm and collected.
With all the advances in medicine and scientific research, patients with cystic fibrosis are living longer and better lives. With a little planning, a proactive system can keep infections at bay. Even if a health strategy may seem unrelated, preventing any type of disease or infection will lead to a better outcome. With improvements in research, new treatments are becoming available all the time. If you have questions, contact your doctor about all the treatment options available.