Regardless of whether we have a mild or a more advanced case of bronchiectasis, whether we are currently taking antibiotics or not, whether we have lots of energy or very little, self-care is critical. Self-care is not necessarily the easiest way to manage a disease, but it can be the most individualized, rewarding and hopefully, successful way of living with a chronic condition.
The word “bronchiectasis” is a combination of the Greek words “bronckos” meaning airway and “ektasis” meaning widening or dilation. The last part, the “ektasis”, is what makes it an irreversible disease as the tissue has lost its elasticity from inflammation and infection. Think of the stretched-out waistband of an old pair of pajama bottoms. No amount of laundering is going to shrink that band. The same is true of our lungs. However, self-care will make it easier to keep our overstretched passages from clogging with sticky mucus and organisms−bacteria, viruses and fungi− that destroy tissue.
Also crucial is adopting a healthy lifestyle to decrease overall inflammation. A commitment to healthy eating, exercise and rest will make a significant difference. You must take a committed approach because your body is smart. It knows the difference between a few toe-touches and a one hour stretch class at your gym. It knows the difference between shutting your eyes for five minutes and sitting down to your meditation practice fully present. It knows a quickie puff on the Aerobika versus a full-throttle attempt to get the mucus out.
I want to be absolutely clear on a critical point: I am NOT advocating blowing off traditional medicine. I am a firm believer in a healthcare team with traditional as well as alternative care providers. I also believe in taking advantage of every service your multi-disciplinary team of providers has to offer. I now have a care team that supports my healing and is available to answer questions as they arise. It took me some time and effort to get to this point including traveling to another state for a second opinion and switching to a new pulmonologist.
My new pulmonologist recommended that I see several other specialists who would look for possible causes of my disease. Over time, I added in some complementary medical practitioners to help me heal. In this way, I felt that we were working together and taking a holistic, individualized approach to my care. So, again, I urge those with BE to seek out the best medical care available in their community. If options are limited, and you have the resources, find a top national specialist to guide your local team.
#bronchiectasis #pulmonology #airwayclearance #lunghealth
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.