So you’ve just found out that you have a lung disease of some kind, and that your ability to breathe is limited or impaired in some way. Maybe you saw this coming. Then again, maybe you didn’t. One thing for sure is you probably have heard lots of new words and information from your doctor recently. As with any medical condition, it can be very confusing at first. It’s important to fully understand your diagnosis, the lung disease you have, and what you need to do to begin treating it.
Take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone. More than 35 million Americans are living with some sort of lung disease right now. Notice we said living with lung disease. While very serious and usually chronic, you can lead a full and active life with lung disease if you approach your treatment in a positive way, and make the changes to your lifestyle that are necessary. Things like oxygen therapy may seem like a burden at first, but many people just like you are finding ways to reclaim their independence. But first things first-this section will provide an overview, and you can find more in-depth information in the education section.
There are two categories of lung disease: Obstructive and Restrictive
Obstructive lung disease
These conditions cause your airways to narrow in reaction to external irritants, or to become blocked altogether, resulting in an inability to fully exhale. Obstructive lung diseases include Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) including Emphysema and Chronic Bronchitis, and Asthma.
Restrictive lung disease
These conditions are different, in that they cause the loss of lung tissue, impair the lung’s ability to expand when inhaling, and also lead to less efficiency in transferring oxygen and carbon dioxide between your bloodstream and your airways. Lung cancer and pneumonia are two kinds of restrictive lung diseases.
Checklist for the Newly Diagnosed
- 1. See a specialist
- You may have known your doctor for years, but a pulmonologist has a lot of experience with lung disorders. This kind of specialist can probably give you better information about what is going on inside your lungs.
- 2. Get as much information as possible
- Read everything you can find about your disease. Start with our education section, and move on to other websites as needed. Figure out how this will affect your life, your job, and your family. Look into all the treatment options that are out there, and understand what is involved with each before choosing one (or more) with your doctor.
- 3. Talk to people
- Start with your doctor or nurse, and then find others who have the same condition you do.
- 4. QUIT SMOKING
- If you’re still smoking, you have to stop immediately. Visit our education section for some tips, and talk to your doctor about ways you can quit.