In this article, the cancer care team here at New Hope Medical Center aims to bring awareness to Healthy Lung Month and Respiratory Care Week. If you have lung cancer or any form of lung disorder, you can maximize your health and improve your quality of life by trying these tips from reputable doctors, scientists, and researchers.
Here’s how you can live a happy and healthier life, even with lung cancer:
1. You’ve heard it before and we are here to remind you again: Quit smoking
Although not all lung cancers and lung diseases result from smoking, what people describe as “a very addicting habit” damages your lungs. Smoking has significant effects on your health and disrupts your ability to breathe properly. If you suffer from a lung disorder and you smoke, one of the most effective ways to improve your health is to quit.
Researchers found that persistent smoking after lung cancer diagnosis impairs healing, lowers overall quality of life, reduces the effectiveness of treatments, increases the risk for recurrence and the development of a second primary cancer, and decreases survival. Furthermore, people who smoke are more likely to have depression than non-smokers. If your goal is to live a happy and healthy life for many years to come, you know what you need to give up.
To begin your journey toward healthier lungs, our 10 Fail Proof Strategies to Quit Smoking may help light your path.
2. Fuel your body with protein and calories during lung cancer treatment
Your body requires protein to regenerate and rebuild tissues that certain cancer treatments can break down, says Jonathan Goldman, MD, a health sciences clinical professor at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine. Therefore, you need to consume enough protein while undergoing treatment. Eggs, chicken, turkey, and grass-fed beef or lamb are good sources of protein. Each serving should look like a deck of cards, according to Carolyn Katzin, MS, CNS, a nutritionist and oncologist at the UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology.
Moreover, add to your diet foods that have a low glycemic load. Glycemic load is an estimate of how much a certain food will raise your blood glucose level after consuming it. In addition, it is crucial to maintain or boost the health of your digestive tract by increasing your intake of fiber. Katzin recommends substituting fruit juice with a piece of whole fruit, or if you want to have fruit juice, ensure it includes pulp. Oatmeal, brown rice cakes with almond butter, and applesauce are other healthy snack options, adds Katzin.
If you need help with your diet, work with your doctor and dietitian to create a meal plan that fits your needs.
3. Practice breathing exercises
Many people with lung cancer or other lung disorders have difficulty getting in a full breath of air, which may cause fatigue since breathing is a way for people to maintain a healthy electrolyte balance. That being said, if you feel tired, breathing exercises may help you.
According to the American Lung Association, breathing exercises play a role in ridding the lungs of the “stale air” that accumulates over time. They also boost the supply of oxygen to the lungs and other organs, as well as strengthen the diaphragm, which is the major muscle responsible for breathing.
One exercise that the American Lung Association recommends is “pursed-lip breathing.” Inhale through your nose for two seconds, and then exhale through your mouth for four seconds with pursed lips. Repeat. The pursed-lip breathing technique can help reduce the number of breaths you take. It also keeps your airways open for much longer, which promotes increased airflow for improved physical activity.
4. Understand the importance of hydration in cancer patients
You need to drink enough water regardless if you are healthy or ill. If you have cancer, your body works overtime to repair any damage from conventional cancer treatments, which can then lead to dehydration. Keep in mind that severe dehydration can be fatal.
As soon as you awake in the morning, have a large glass of water. Drinking broths and soups, particularly stocks made of bones, is advisable when you are undergoing cancer treatment.
5. Establish a strong support system
By joining a lung cancer support group near you, you can maintain your social skills, meet new people, make friends, share experiences, and learn from others who are going through the same experiences as you. Click here to find support programs in your area.
6. Do not sacrifice a good night’s sleep for one more episode of your favorite show
Although getting quality sleep is a must for everyone, it is especially necessary for lung cancer patients and anyone with health problems. It is during the night that DNA repair occurs and cells regenerate. Furthermore, sleep deprivation is a potential cancer risk factor.
Improve your chances of getting a good night’s sleep by winding down slowly at night, suggests Katzin. You can also try the following tips to help you sleep better:
- Sleep in a cool and peaceful environment
- Use a fleece blanket since it offers better air circulation while keeping you warm
- Stop using electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime
- Stop drinking caffeinated beverages at least seven hours before bedtime
Read 7 Ways to Sleep Soundly During Stressful Times for more tips on how to get quality rest at night.
7. Keep your stress levels at bay
You need to remember to take care of yourself physically and emotionally because undergoing treatment, particularly for lung cancer, can be very stressful, advises Kathleen Sheridan Russell, a project coordinator at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center in Deerfield Beach, Florida.
Sheridan Russell recommends massage therapy, acupuncture, short-term counseling, and more. In particular, individual counseling can help patients learn about the many ways to cope with the physical and emotional challenges of having cancer. Exercise is also an excellent way to reduce stress.
Here at New Hope Unlimited, we offer many alternative lung cancer treatments, including but not limited to aromatherapy, nutritional counseling, holistic pain management, and some of the above mentioned. This is because reducing feelings of sadness, anxiety, and other negative emotions are among the goals at our treatment facility. If you are interested in comprehensive treatments for lung cancer, call us today at 480-666-1403 or complete our online form here to schedule a consultation.