Self-management

Lifestyle and home remedies

Being actively involved in your own treatment and staying as healthy as possible are essential to living with interstitial lung disease. For that reason, it's important to:

  • Stop smoking. If you have lung disease, the best thing you can do for yourself is to stop smoking. Talk to your doctor about options for quitting, including smoking cessation programs, which use a variety of proven techniques to help people quit. And because secondhand smoke also can be harmful to your lungs, don't allow people to smoke around you.
  • Eat well. People with lung disease may lose weight both because it's uncomfortable to eat and because of the extra energy it takes to breathe. These people need a nutritionally rich diet that contains adequate calories. A dietitian can give you further guidelines for healthy eating.
  • Get vaccinated. Respiratory infections can worsen symptoms of intersitial lung disease. Make sure you receive the pneumonia vaccine and an annual flu shot.

Coping and support

Living with a chronic lung disease is emotionally and physically challenging. Your daily routines and activities may need to be adjusted, sometimes radically, as breathing problems worsen or health care needs take priority in your life. Feelings of fear, anger and sadness are normal as you grieve for the loss of your old life and worry about what's next for you and your family.

Share your feelings with your loved ones and your doctor. Talking openly may help you and your loved ones cope with the emotional challenges of your disease. In addition, clear communication will help you and your family plan effectively for your needs if your disease progresses.

You may also want to consider joining a support group, where you can talk to people who are facing challenges similar to yours. Group members may share coping strategies, exchange information about new treatments or simply listen as you express your feelings. If a group isn't for you, you may wish to talk with a counselor in a one-on-one setting.