Try to quit smoking and avoid secondhand smoke1
Smoking may speed up the progression of lung damage in patients with alpha-1. Quitting may not be easy, but keep trying and chances are you will be successful. Ask your doctor for help, or visit our alpha-1 resources page for more information about programs than can help you quit smoking. Secondhand smoke is also an added risk if you have alpha-1. If someone in your household smokes, ask them to stop or step outside when smoking, or avoid them when they smoke.
Be careful of infections1
Ask your doctor about vaccines for flu and pneumonia, avoid contact with people with colds, and make sure to wash your hands frequently. If you do get an infection, treat it right away. Call your doctor at the earliest signs of cold or flu, and follow his or her instructions.
Try to stay away from environmental pollutants1
Pollutants in the workplace and the home can be harmful if you have alpha-1. Wear a mask around dust or vapors, or move to a place with more favorable conditions. Air pollution can also be harmful if you have alpha-1. Stay indoors when ozone values are too high, and consider moving to a less polluted area. Try to avoid wood stoves, and be sure to change your heating and air conditioning filters on a regular basis. Talk to your doctor about the best ways to avoid environmental pollutants.
Good nutrition is an important way to maintain your health and lung function.
A healthy diet improves muscle function, which helps preserve your body's energy and strength. Good nutrition also improves your resistance to lung infections.
There are several dietary guidelines commonly recommended for people with alpha-1:
- Increase fats and decrease carbohydrates
- Do not exceed caloric requirements
- Avoid excessive fluid intake
- Maintain adequate levels of phosphorous by eating dairy foods, lean meats, fish, beans, peas, whole grain cereals, and nuts
Maintain a healthy weight2
While it's important to eat a balanced diet, eating too much can add to the burden on your lungs. Strike a balance between your energy needs and food intake. Ask your doctor or dietician to help with maintaining a proper weight.
Routine exercise can help improve mental outlook, stamina, and physical well-being. Many people find that simple stretching exercises, walking, or bicycling improves exercise tolerance. Discuss your goals with your doctor and tailor an exercise program to fit your needs.
Managing stress may help you feel better and avoid adverse effects on your health. Stress management may offer benefits such as improved breathing, reduced shortness of breath, and relief of anxiety. Breathing exercises, muscle relaxation, and other relaxation techniques are common ways to relieve stress. Talk to your doctor for more information on specific techniques.