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Archive: November 2018

Managing Stress with Bronchiectasis and NTM

Posted on November 28, 2018   |   
Author: Gretchen   |   
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This blog post was written by Jane Martin, BA, LRT, CRT

If you have Bronchiectasis/NTM, you well know that the effects of this disease can result in major changes to your lifestyle and activities. And these changes, and challenges, are bound to cause stress. Looking at common causes of stress (stressors), coping skills and techniques, and how to use a stress log for managing stress brought on by Bronchiectasis/NTM are valuable ways to improve daily life.

Let’s start by looking at some stressors commonly found with Bronchiectasis/NTM. You may have one or more of these, and you may have others that are not on this list.

· Eating issues and digestive problems

· Body image issues with low weight

· Uncontrollable cough leading to embarrassment and/or social isolation

· Side effects of strong, frequently-used antibiotics

· Gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD)

· Fatigue or Exhaustion

· Cancelling plans due to not feeling well

So, what does it take to get through this stress? It is important to note that what works for one person may not work for another. Here are some examples of coping skills and techniques that may be helpful.

1. Try to avoid stressors when possible. If you’re going out to where there might be cold or flu germs, try not to shake hands, hug, or kiss. Wash your hands often or use hand sanitizer, and write with your own pen.

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Tags: bronch and NTM coping with chronic illness Quality of Life Stress with bronchiectasis Stress with NTM
Categories: Quality of Life

Preventing Winter Exacerbations in Bronchiectasis and NTM Patients

Posted on November 20, 2018   |   
Author: Gretchen   |   
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This blog post was written by Katie Keating, RN, MS, patient advocate

Exacerbations and flare-ups are a part of life for many bronchiectasis and/or NTM patients. A flare-up is when your everyday symptoms worsen; such as on humid or rainy days. Exacerbations, however, last longer and are more serious. They usually happen when a respiratory infection causes inflammation, excessive mucus, fever, increasing cough, shortness of breath, or reduced lung capacity, as noted on pulmonary function tests.

Unlike flare-ups, exacerbations can have permanent effects. Some patients’ conditions may never get back to where they were before the exacerbation. This often is the case following a pseudomonas infection.

As a patient and a nurse, I made light of my exacerbations in the past, just figuring that another round of antibiotics was part of the journey. Little did I realize the impact long-term antibiotics would have on my gastrointestinal and genitourinary tracts. I now take a more proactive approach to prevent any possible infection from invading my body and avoid antibiotics as much as I can.

Winter weather causes an increase in symptoms because cold air is denser, drier, and more difficult to breathe. Airways and nasal passages may be dry, causing inflammation that worsens symptoms, increases mucus production, and increases your risk of illness or infection. In cold weather especially, individuals at risk of infection should try to do everything possible to keep your body strong and prevent acute exacerbations.

The following are seven suggestions to stay strong this winter season.

1) Avoid people who are sick. Public places are full of germs, but caregivers or family members might also be a threat to you. If you must come into contact with people when they are sick, wear a mask or ask them to wear one, preferably a mask with a HEPA-filter. Avoid sharing drinking glasses or utensils, common condiments or other group-food containers. Do not visit hospitals, nursing homes, or sick people.

2) Practice good handwashing techniquesif you are in a public place or come into contact with someone who is sick. Wash your hands in warm, soapy water for a few minutes (Sing the ‘Happy Birthday’ song to make sure you’ve washed long enough) and dry them with a paper towel. Use a paper towel to turn off the running water and to open the exit door. Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth unless you know your hands are clean. Carry antimicrobial hand sanitizer for times when you don’t have access to soap and water.

3) Get your annual flu shot and a periodic pneumonia aaccine(once every five years if you are under 65).

4) Create a healthy home. Avoid smoke from wood-burning stoves and fireplaces and other inside pollutants such as scented candles, perfumes and aerosol cleaning products. Be mindful of dust, pet dander and mold. Here is a resource with some good information in home evaluation:

a. Air filters and purifiers can help. Always be conscious of HVAC systems in homes you visit. Do not use humidifiers.

b. For those who do not have elderly, children or guests in their home, raising the thermostat on the water heater from 120° to 145° may reduce exposure to mycobacteria. Adding a water purification system to your home or apartment may also reduce exposure.

5) Button up outside. Since cold weather can make respiratory symptoms worse, breathe through your nose and wear a scarf over your face when you’re outside. This traps the heat and moisture from your breath and warms and humidifies it. When possible, try to breathe through your nose, not your mouth, so the air can further warm and pick up moisture as it travels through your airways to your lungs. Avoid going outside when it is extremely windy or cold.

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Tags: Bronchiectasis exacerbations NTM prevention of exacerbations Quality of Life Winter exacerbation
Categories: Awareness

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