The word “bronchiectasis” is a combination of “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. We have a chronic condition that is not curable.
That’s why it is important that we get the best medical care available and do daily self-care. Do you know if the care you are receiving follows bronchiectasis guidelines? In the United States we do not currently have guidelines (although the buzz is that they are in the works!), however other countries and multinational organizations do. These guidelines provide critical diagnostic and treatment protocols.
Visit the "Bronchiectasis Information" page on this website. Check out the guidelines from the European Respiratory Society, the UK, Spain, and Australia and New Zealand.
Educate. Empower. Advocate.
#Educate #Advocate #Bronchiectasis #NTMLungDisease #MACLungDisease
We don’t laugh because we’re happy — we’re happy because we laugh — William James
Orange you glad I didn’t say banana?
You may not find this joke particularly funny, unlike my young grandsons who think it is hysterical. No matter how many times they tell it, it sends them into a fit of giggles. Then, their laughter becomes contagious and before long I am laughing along with them.
The old adage “laughter is the best medicine” was verified by Norman Cousins, editor of the Saturday Review, in his ground-breaking book Anatomy of an Illness published in 1979. The book details his painful experience with a degenerative disease. When Cousins was told that there was only a 1 in 500 chance of going into remission, he took matters into his own hands by creating a laughter therapy program for himself. He found that watching and laughing to comedic shows like Candid Camera, The Three Stooges and The Marx Brothers, eased his pain and was a large part of his recovery.
Although many in the medical community were skeptical of his claims, Cousins said that “We mustn’t regard any of this as a substitute for competent medical attention. But the doctor can only do half the job. The other half is the patient’s response to the illness. What we really mean by a patient’s responsibility is that we’ve got vast powers that are rarely used. It’s important to avoid defeatism and a sense of panic and despair.”(1)
Surprisingly, Cousins’ layman approach and self-experimentation was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The medical profession started paying attention and, although many physicians had doubts and concerns about Cousins’ unscientific approach, he had laid down the gauntlet and the challenge was taken up by several researchers in the 1980’s, one of them being Dr. Lee Berk, a preventive care specialist in California.
Berk and his colleagues conducted many experiments involving laughter. In one study, they measured the participants’ stress hormones before and after watching an hour of comedy. The study found that after watching the show, the subjects had lower levels of stress hormones compared to those who did not watch it.(2)
In 1995, Dr. Matan Kataria, an Indian physician living in Mumbai started a laughing club. Dr. Kataria’s club was based on his research on the health benefits of laughter. His concept caught on and he formalized his method by calling it “Hasya Yoga” which means “Laughter Yoga.” Today, there are thousands of Laughter Yoga Clubs throughout the world.
Several years ago, I went to a Laughter Yoga class while on vacation. I hemmed and hawed about going to the class thinking that it sounded silly, but eventually I gave in. Following the teacher’s instructions, our group of about 20 women formed a circle and did some deep breathing, clapping and vocalizing of patterns such as “Hee Hee Ha Ha Ha”. Then we walked around the room and engaged one another with playful greetings and fake laughter. By the end of the hour we were all genuinely laughing and we left the class feeling relaxed and uplifted.
This type of program is not everyone’s cup of tea, yet for me the takeaway was that I should laugh more — I should lighten up. At times, the seriousness and daily grind of self-care can zap my sense of humor and I am sure you’ve felt the same way. But, if we think of laughter as part of healthy living, it seems less frivolous and more integral to our well-being.
The Mayo Clinic concurs that laughter has many salutary effects and recommends that we find ways to laugh regularly. They say that laughter can:
So, let’s try to benefit from laughter by looking for ways to let loose a guffaw or two during our day! Whether that means clicking over to an online joke site, watching a comedy hour or reminiscing with friends about something funny from the past, seek out opportunities to laugh.
Having grandchildren and watching them run around and be silly reminds me of how good it is to be present in the moment and enjoy life. My friends with pets have a similar experience watching the fun-loving antics of their cats and dogs. So, whatever our source of laughter, let’s remember that it nourishes the body and spirit.
#bronchiectasis #chronicdisease #positivethinking #laughter #laugh
1. Colburn, D. (October 21, 1986). Norman Cousins, Still Laughing. The Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/lifestyle/wellness/1986/10/21/norman-cousins-still-laughing/e17f23cb-3e8c-4f58-b907-2dcd00326e22/
2. Body’s response to repetitive laughter is similar to the effect of repetitive exercise, study finds. (2010) ScienceDaily.com. sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100426113058.htm
3. Mayo Clinic Staff. (2019). Stress Relief From Laughter? It’s No Joke. Healthy Lifestyle-Stress Management. mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/streLss-management/in-depth/stress-relief/art-20044456
Do you ever cough right after eating? Feel short of breath? Some say it’s from acid reflux. However, I don’t have GERD and yet, I occasionally cough. Why, why, why?
Dr. Noah Greenspan, author of Ultimate Pulmonary Wellness, has a plausible theory for some people--The Suitcase Theory. He suggests that it is about the relationship between the thoracic cavity where our lungs reside and the abdominal cavity. He asks us to think of the thoracic cavity as one side of a suitcase and the abdominal cavity as the other side. By overfilling the abdominal cavity, we leave less room in the suitcase for the thoracic cavity. He further explains that it doesn’t matter whether the substance is solid, liquid or gas. If we overfill our stomach, it is going to decrease space in our lungs.
My Sunday afternoon ritual is an example of when I “overstuff my suitcase”. On Sundays, I often treat myself to a large afternoon meal. My favorite is a big bowl of pasta, a salad, bubbly water and a glass of wine. After my meal, I look forward to spreading out the Sunday New York Times on the table and reading for an hour.
This leisurely indulgence is frequently interrupted by bouts of coughing, even when I have exercised and cleared my airways earlier in the day! I know that my meal includes some of my triggers—tomato sauce, vinegar, wine (did I mention the piece of dark chocolate?) so I figured that their acidic, irritating nature were making me cough. However, I had to dismiss this theory because, when I choose to get up and clean the kitchen instead of staying seated with the paper, I don't cough.
After reading about the Suitcase Theory, I had my answer. It stands to reason that my main issue is that I overstuff the abdominal half of my suitcase, the contents of which then press against my lungs, especially when seated. I’m sure the acidity in my Sunday indulgence doesn’t help matters but, for the most part, because I cough immediately after eating and I do not cough if I am standing, there is a high likelihood that I cough from overpacking.
To prevent a post-meal coughing bout, I suggest eating small to medium quantities of food, 4 or 5 times a day so that you “pack light”. If you are trying to put on weight, use healthy oils and nuts generously. If you have a BMI over 25 and you are trying to slim down, eating low calorie frequent mini-meals is a good approach. Depending on your weight distribution, your belly might be pushing against your lungs even when you are not eating, so “packing light” with smaller meals is a good idea.
#bronchiectasis #ntmlungdisease #GERD #acidreflux
Greenspan, Noah. (2017). Ultimate Pulmonary Wellness. New York, NY: Printed by author, pp.156-157