Tips for the Holidays for individuals with bronchiectasis and NTM lung disease

Posted on December 05, 2022   |   
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This blog post was authored by Katie Keating, RN, MS, and reviewed by the Bronchiectasis and NTM Content Review and Evaluation Committee.

The holidays are quickly approaching. We have gotten through an extremely challenging pandemic. However, many people with lung conditions are also worried about RSV Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and the flu. Are you prepared to enjoy the holidays despite concerns about how your lung disease may impact your time with family and friends?

Below are a few tips that I have learned over the years on how best to enjoy the holiday season when you have bronchiectasis and/or nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) lung disease.

Ask about the health of guests

During the upcoming holiday season, we must protect ourselves. It is important to inquire about the health status of all who will be attending a holiday get-together the day before and/or the day of the event. If a child or adult has mild respiratory symptoms, it's OK to be assertive and say "no." It is best to reschedule another time to get together with these individuals. Put yourself first and make the right decision; it is being smart, not selfish. Many people may not think about or realize that their mild symptoms can lead to major symptoms in a person with a lung condition.

Also, realize that people can be carriers and not know if they are sick. It is up to us whether or not to take risks in all situations. It is important to continue practicing the basic infection-control measures (e.g., hand washing, mask-wearing) reviewed throughout the pandemic. These viruses will be around for quite some time. People need people. Our mental health is so important for our physical health.

Think about food and drink alternatives

After doing your family/friend assessment, enjoy the day. It is great to be around family, friends, and little children who light up your day. Regarding holiday dining, check out possible food interactions if you are on antibiotics. For example, you may need to avoid dairy foods within a few hours of taking antibiotics. Think about drink preparation in advance. I drank O'Doul's nonalcoholic beer and alcohol-free Fres wine while I was on the "big three" antibiotics. I would have preferred to indulge in a good glass of vino during the holidays, but the alcohol/drug interactions were too risky.

Make time for your airway clearance and wellness routine

Throughout the holidays, continue doing airway clearance. Carry your hand-held airway clearance device in your travel bag, or use your portable vest as needed. Some basic exercise can assist with airway clearance, boost your immune function, and helps the body with stress hormones. Try your best to eat smart and have a well-balanced diet. Get enough sleep. Sleep is the body's natural time to restore and remove toxins. It is one of the most important steps in stress reduction throughout the holidays.

Take time for reflection

Make a grateful list. Take five minutes and journal three things you are grateful for every day. Provide yourself with a little TLC (tender loving care). Listen to music. Music can have positive, therapeutic effects on the brain and body. If you are preparing to travel, for helpful tips visit the Travel page on Bronchiectasis and NTM 360.

We all have gone through a lot in the past few years. We now deserve to reconnect and live as safely as possible. It takes a while to overcome the tight restrictions we have become accustomed to over the past few years, but we must do what feels right for us. Life flies by. Capture special memorable moments enjoy the company of others, and when possible, add vitamin J for joy, vitamin F for fun, and vitamin L for laughter to your holiday season. These special vitamins increase endorphins and improve our immune systems. Happy Holidays.