5 Ways to Maintain Optimal Health with Cystic Fibrosis

Cystic fibrosis is a disease affecting about 30,000 people in the United States alone — leaving many people struggling to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Learn about 5 simple ways that people with cystic fibrosis can maintain optimal health.

5 Ways to Maintain Optimal Health with Cystic Fibrosis

How does cystic fibrosis affect someone’s health?

Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disease that causes mucus to build up in the lungs and other organs. This mucus leads to difficulty breathing because of blocked airways. It also builds up in the pancreas, which causes malnutrition since the body is not getting the right enzymes to break down food.

If you’re interested in learning more about this disease, including symptoms and treatment options, check out our informative blog post, What is Cystic Fibrosis?

How to Maintain Optimal Health with Cystic Fibrosis

1. Exercise

Mucus is the number one issue with cystic fibrosis. Exercise can help to combat this by loosening the mucus in the airways and strengthening the heart. Even low-impact exercises like walking or biking can help to drastically improve breathing.

Participation in sports and other activities also increases confidence and self-esteem in individuals with CF.

2. Encourage Hand Washing

The faulty gene responsible for CF creates a salt imbalance in the lungs, causing a build-up of thick mucus. This mucus creates a warm and welcoming environment for germs to grow.

It is surprising how many germs are spread from one person to another just from their hands. This is often fine, because a normal body is able to handle it. It becomes a much bigger issue among individuals with CF, however, because their lungs are not able to fight against the germs. Hand washing is the number one way to prevent the spread of germs.

Warm water and soap is the best method for hand washing. If these are not available, then you should carry antibacterial hand wipes on you to keep clean and germ-free.

3. Keep Up-to-Date with Immunizations

In the same way that a person with CF is not able to combat germs, infections are also a substantial threat to their immune system.  Immunizations can go a long way in keeping people with CF safe from various illnesses, such as influenza.

It is also imperative that people with CF receive vaccinations when they travel to new environments that carry potential dangers to their immune system. They should always keep current with any and all vaccinations because of the added risk.

4. Eliminate Smoke

Smoking cigarettes is a danger to everyone, but it presents increased challenges to those with CF. Smoking will compromise a person’s lung function and capacity, which is already limited by cystic fibrosis.

It is not enough just to not smoke themselves. Individuals with CF should also avoid second-hand smoke. Anyone with CF should stay away from areas where people regularly smoke, and kindly ask people not to smoke around them.

5. High-Calorie Diet

CF is notorious for impeding absorption of basic nutrients, which often leads to malnutrition. CF sufferers, therefore, need to increase their caloric intake to compensate for this. Such a diet supports a healthy weight and helps individuals to fight infection. This diet should focus on foods with high nutritious value, such as those high in protein.

It’s also important to drink plenty of liquids (especially water). This helps to thin the mucus in the lungs and prevents blockages to the airway.

CF is a life-threatening disease — but it is possible to maintain optimal health with cystic fibrosis. These 5 methods can improve the quality and length of life for people who suffer from this disease.

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