Lung Cancer And Palliative Care - Tips To Assist With Breathing Troubles

Posted on: 28 March 2016

If you have lung cancer and experience shortness of breath, then you understand the panic that can ensue when you have a bout of breathlessness. If you are unable to catch your breath, then it is time to invest in palliative care with the help of either a cancer or palliative care specialist. This individual will work with you to ease the stress that develops when you have lung cancer. They will also help with symptom treatment by supplying inhalers, nebulizers, pain relievers, and anti-inflammatory drugs. The specialist may also instruct you to do things on your own to help reduce issues with breathing. Keep reading to learn about a few things that may be suggested.

Try Breathing Exercises

People with lung cancer develop airway obstructions that reduce their ability to pull air into the lungs. Also, when you have lung cancer, abnormal cells grow inside your lungs. These cancer cells multiply and form tumors, and the tumorous cells do not carry out activities like normal lung cells do. The tissues also crowd out the healthy lung cells and cause them to die. This means that there are fewer cells across the lungs that can absorb oxygen and release carbon dioxide. This causes breathing difficulties. While your body will be unable to rebuild new and healthy lung tissues until the cancerous tumors disappear or shrink, you can make the most of the healthy lung tissues that you already have. This can be done by exercising your lungs. Doing so will help the cells to extract oxygen and dispel carbon dioxide in a much more proficient and quick manner. Some people call this increasing the lung's capacity. However, your lungs will not change in size or open up either. Exercise will simply make your healthy cells work better.

To exercise your lungs, place your body in a standing position and push out all the air from your lungs through your mouth. As you do so, allow your body to slump forward. Once you have exhaled fully, breathe in deeply and pull your body into an upright position. Breathe in as deeply as possible and hold your breath for 15 or 20 seconds. Exhale slowly afterwards. Breathe normally for 30 seconds and repeat the breathing exercise about five times.

Another exercise involves sitting with your back straight and breathing in as much air as possible and then breathing out as much as possible. Breathing in abdominally to strengthen your abdomen and the ability of your diaphragm to pull oxygen into the lungs is a good idea too. You may think about involving yourself in mild aerobic exercise for good lung function. If you do this, you may need to wear an oxygen tank or concentrator to make sure that you do not subject your body to too much stress. Make sure to ask your palliative care professional about this. He or she may suggest short and monitored exercise sessions to reduce hyperventilation risks.

Encourage Red Blood Cell Production

You feel as though you cannot catch your breath because your body is telling your lungs to work harder to bring more oxygen into the body. Oxygen is an essential nutrient that is needed by each and every cell to remain alive and healthy. Tissues will start to die as soon as they are deprived of the nutrient. Since it will be difficult for you to increase oxygen levels due to tumors in the lungs, try to increase the amount of red blood cells your body contains instead. Red blood cells are the ones that carry oxygen to the body tissues. More blood cells means quicker dispersion of the oxygen that is able to enter your body. Also, if you have more red blood cells to carry the oxygen away from the air you breathe, less oxygen will be contained in the air you exhale.

To increase red blood cell production, make sure to eat foods that are high in iron. Spinach, kale, kidney and liver meat, and beans are high in iron. Folic acid also helps the body create the cells, so make sure to eat foods like broccoli, asparagus, avocados, and citrus fruits. Also, speak with your palliative care specialist about iron and folic acid supplements, especially if cancer treatments have reduced your appetite. 

For more information about working with a palliative care specialist, contact a company like Corner Home Medical.