Being a person who loves to learn, I am lucky to have a pulmonologist who is a natural teacher. Whenever I visit her office, I make sure to bring a short list of questions for her.
This time, my visit coincided with a Drs. Chalmers and Blasi’s bronchiectasis webinar I was listening to on my phone. I missed some of it because I was being processed and prepped for my lung CT scan, but I came away with another question for my doctor– this one about Pseudomonas.
It seems like almost every talk on bronchiectasis lately includes the role of Pseudomonas. The more I listen, the more I hear a consensus that this bug should be cleared ASAP. Similar to NTM bacteria, Pseudomonas bacteria clump together in a biofilm, making it difficult to eradicate. On top of that, it can be antibiotic resistant.
I asked my doctor what her approach would be were I to grow Pseudomonas in my sputum. Would I need to submit another culture before treatment? “No,” she said, “We would treat it right away.” This was eye-opening as Dr Blasi mentioned that sometimes we can grow this bug without symptoms of infection such as increased cough, more mucus and a change in mucus color.
So, although some of us only see our pulmonologist once a year, there might be good reason to be proactive and submit sputum samples more regularly. Discuss this with your medical team and come up with a plan. It will be important to have a standing order at a lab so you can submit your sample without needing to contact your doctor. This process might vary depending on your health plan and your lab.
Educate yourself. Talk to your medical team. Make a plan. Stay healthy. Live well with bronchiectasis.
#bronchiectasis #pseudomonas #mucus #sputum
In my recently published book, The BE CLEAR Method to Living with Bronchiectasis, the letter “C” in the BE CLEAR acronym stands for Clearance of Airways. Before I started clearing my airways, I never coughed up anything. But, then, I started using an Aerobika as well as experimenting with other methods and now I am able to remove mucus from my lungs almost every day.
It didn’t happen right away. First, I needed to get to know my body and figure out what was most effective because we’re all different and airway clearance is as much an art as a science.
Are you wondering why we need to set aside time for airway clearance every day, sometimes twice a day? Because those of us with BE have scarred lungs, and mucus can accumulate in those challenged areas. Then, bacteria, viruses and fungi can feed on the mucus and grow. Airway clearance is our way of preventing this from happening. We are in essence, power-washing our damaged airways with a potent mix of forced air, vibration and sometimes saline solution, making it so unpleasant for pathogens they have no choice but to leave.
The best part is, once the infection is gone, daily use of an Aerobika and other methods of airway clearance will continue to create an inhospitable environment. It’s a permanent “no trespassing” sign that will help decrease inflammation and infection in our lungs and allow for healing.
#lunghealth #bronchiectasis #mucus
Linda Cooper Esposito, MPH is a health educator with bronchiectasis. She developed the BE CLEAR Method to Living with Bronchiectasis and writes with compassion and humor about this chronic lung disease.