Monitor Your Lung Health
Physiotherapists aim to assist you in keeping your lungs as healthy as possible, to help shift the thick and sticky secretions, and minimise infections and/or the impact of these infections. Sometimes you may notice changes in your own lung health before anyone else does. Sometimes you might get so used to your day to day symptoms, whether it is a cough, more sputum, difficulty sleeping because of an irritable cough, that others around you might be first to notice the changes. You might find it helpful to track your symptoms for a while and see if there is any change in the pattern.
It is valuable to you and your health care team if you can be aware of your lung health, and alert your health care team if there is a change. It is recommended that individuals with CF attend a dedicated CF Clinic with a multi-disciplinary team. The team can work together with you to develop a monitoring and treatment plan to help you look after your health. Your physiotherapist will work with you to help you feel confident to use your physiotherapy techniques to work for you.
Signs that might be helpful to monitor include:
- Sputum colour – if it is changing to a darker colour, or blood in your sputum this is a change you need to discuss with your healthcare team
- Sputum volume – is it increasing?
- Sputum stickiness, thickness – is it getting thicker?
- Shortness of breath – is this new? Is it getting worse?
- Your cough – is it happening more? Is it wet? Is it dry and irritable?
- Are you getting “spew” burps
- Unable to keep up with your friends when out and about or on the sporting field
- There are many others that might be valuable and you should talk to your physiotherapist and health care team about what might be important for you.
In clinic your physiotherapist and other members of the health care team will monitor certain aspects of your lung health, some of these will include collecting sputum regularly, listening to your chest with a stethoscope and also asking you to perform lung function.
When you are born your lungs are very small: as your body gets bigger your lungs get bigger too. The amount of air your lungs can hold depends on the size of your lungs. The amount of air that you can get in and out of your lungs is called your lung function. As you grow taller, your lung volume and function increases. When you reach early adult age you are the tallest you will be. As you reach early adulthood, your lung volume will reach its maximum.