Filtering by Tag: germs

Clearly Invisible : CF Adventurers

This segment of the blog is dedicated to shedding light on the invisible side of CF- striving to spark dialogue, cultivate understanding, and encourage compassion between all of us.

The CF community is comprised of passionate and driven individuals that are dedicated to changing their community for the better. This community is made up of tenacious and caring people who have been diagnosed with CF themselves, family, friends, and individuals who have been touched in some way by CF. Brad Benson, the creator of CF Adventurers, is no exception. Learn about his passion project and how he's making an impact on the CF community. 

"I am the creator of the CF Adventurers website. (www.cfadventurers.org) I myself do not have cystic fibrosis. Cindy, a friend of mine since our days at the University of Rhode Island has a now 13-year-old daughter, Amanda, who has CF. I knew about the disease in its broad outlines prior to finding out about Amanda’s diagnosis, but committed to learn much more as a result of her situation. One thing that I had no awareness of was the fact that people with cystic fibrosis cannot be around each other in close proximity due to cross contamination concerns. This really struck me as poignant and something that would be particularly difficult to deal with. Even now, years after I learned about this aspect of CF life, I find it almost impossible to really understand. So I decided to try to do something about it. CF Adventurers is the result of that effort.


As I stated earlier, I do not have cystic fibrosis. I do, however, have a disability. I have spina bifida and use a wheelchair to get around. Not an ideal circumstance, perhaps, but who among us lives in ideal circumstances, free of difficulty. It is also useful to remember that one’s own issues and problems are not necessarily the toughest challenges people face I found, when I learned that people with cystic fibrosis cannot be around each other without risk to their health, that it made me consider my own situation. I feel no great need to be around other people with spina bifida. But I have the option if I want it, with no risk to me or others I might meet. People with CF do not have this option, and that fact must be hard to come to grips with. It is my hope that CF Adventurers can help bring members of the CF community together, in virtual space even if not in person."

Take a moment to check out CF Adventurers - "This website is meant to be a fun, safe place for people who have cystic fibrosis, their friends, family members, and others to gather. Here, people with CF can chat, experience online adventure, and share thoughts, feelings, hopes, dreams, plans, fears, and strategies... this site is intended to serve as an alternative way of meeting and interacting, even if not in person.  Life should be about options, and CF Adventurers is here to give people with cystic fibrosis the option of connecting online."

 

 

Disclaimer: The writings and postings of Breathe 3-65 are a reflection of the personal opinions, experiences, and knowledge of the contributing author. Breathe Bravely is not liable for the statements and personal opinions shared. The material of Breathe 3-65 is provided with the best intention and great care is taken to share information from credible sources. However, the content shared on this blog is not medical advice and is not under any condition a substitute for the medical advice provided by your medical providers. Please consult your care team before making any changes or additions to your current CF treatment plan.

Clearly Invisible : Fighting the Flu

This segment of the blog is dedicated to shedding light on the invisible side of CF- striving to spark dialogue, cultivate understanding, and encourage compassion between all of us.

We are in prime Flu season and this time of year can be a bit unnerving for people with CF. While there's no guarantee I won't catch the flu, I take some extra precautions and implement some thoughtful habits to help protect me throughout this season. Here's my advice for getting through the season: 

  • Wash your hands and use hand-sanitizer often.
     
  • Keep it clean – use a disinfectant daily to keep your living environment clean. Wipe down door handles, light switches, faucets, remotes, keyboards, fridge handles, etc. Keeping these high traffic areas disinfected daily will help the spread of compromising germs that could be detrimental to a person with CF’s health – or anyone whose immune system is compromised.
     
  • Disposable hand towels – It may seem like a small thing but replacing your cloth hand towel in the bathroom with disposable hand towels can help deter the spread of germs. 
     
  • Vitamin D – Find ways to get some extra Vitamin D which during the winter months quickly depletes because of our increased time indoors and lack of sunlight. Make sure to take all your vitamins and eat vitamin rich foods. It’s important for people with CF to take in extra vitamins as our bodies do not efficiently absorb vital nutrients.
     
  • Make weight – My CF team has a catchy phrase when it comes to CF and extra weight: “more fluff, more puff.” I know during Influenza season it’s important for me to be dedicated to maintaining or even gaining weight so my body can better fight off infection. Studies have linked increased BMI to increased or stabilized lung function in CF. A large portion of the CF population has difficulty maintaining and gaining weight which has significant effects on the body’s ability to fight infection and maintain lung function.
     
  • Sinus rinses – Daily sinuses rinses help clear out the sinuses and help flush away possible infection that was breathed in during the day. If I have been around a large crowd or in a busy public area I will make sure and do a sinus rinse as soon as I am able.
     
  • Get adequate rest and stay hydrated – A person with CF uses a significant amount of energy just to breathe and do basic everyday tasks. Becoming worn down and dehydrated can be detrimental to our health and can quickly spiral into an exacerbation.
     
  • Get vaccinated and share the importance of those around you getting vaccinated.
     
  • Keep the distance - during peak flu season be cautious about being around a lot of people and in busy public places. Take the appropriate precautions if heading into crowded areas and weigh the risks of needing to go out. It’s best to keep your distance from large groups of people and places you know may be filled with deadly Influenza germs. Weigh the risks and benefits of heading out and maybe grab a mask, hand sanitizer, and try not to touch your face.
     
  • Speak up – Don’t be afraid to remind people that covering a cough, exposure to illness, and hand washing can mean life or death to people with compromised immune systems – especially respiratory issues like CF. Staying away from people who are sick is the best way to avoid infection.
     
  • Stay connected – Influenza A can be deadly for people with CF. It’s important that if you feel any symptoms to call your clinic or go in immediately. 


     

Today's entry is written from the perspective of Ashley Ballou-Bonnema.

Please consult your CF care team if you have concerns about Influenza A or if you want to make any changes to your CF regimen. For more information about Influenza and CF read "Influenza: Learn How to Stay Healthy" from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Disclaimer: The writings and postings of Breathe 3-65 are a reflection of the personal opinions, experiences, and knowledge of the contributing author. Breathe Bravely is not liable for the statements and personal opinions shared. The material of Breathe 3-65 is provided with the best intention and great care is taken to share information from credible sources. However, the content shared on this blog is not medical advice and is not under any condition a substitute for the medical advice provided by your medical providers. Please consult your care team before making any changes or additions to your current CF treatment plan.

Clearly Invisible : A Season of Difficult Decisions

This segment of the blog is dedicated to shedding light on the invisible side of CF- striving to spark dialogue, cultivate understanding, and encourage compassion between all of us.

It’s that special time of year when we come together to celebrate, sharing laughter, traditions, and memories with our family and friends. Our calendars are filled with holiday celebrations and time with those we love. This time of year holds so much joy and excitement. But for many with chronic illnesses like cystic fibrosis, this time of year can cause a lot of anxiety and disappointment, and it can be filled with heartbreaking decisions.

People with CF are fighting today for the hope of more tomorrows. Sometimes that fight includes making the difficult decision to not attend a holiday celebration due to the risk of compromising their health. You see, this time of year paired with a room bursting with loved ones can be a breeding ground for germs and sickness. Things like the air exchange in a room, how many people are sharing the same air, and what might be thought of as a simple cold or the sniffles can be detrimental to the health of someone with CF. An uncovered cough and the sharing of unwanted germs can lead to days and weeks spent in the hospital, hours of extra treatments, course upon course of potent antibiotics, and the possibility of fewer tomorrows. 

So, how can you help the person you love with CF during this beautiful and memorable season of celebrating? Show your support by:

  1. Letting the person with CF or their parents know if you or anyone attending the celebration have been sick. This includes the common cold or a little cough.
     
  2.  Reminding the person or the parents of the child who may have to make that difficult decision that they are not alone. It’s often easier to make an emotional and difficult decision if we know we have your support and understanding. 
     
  3. Washing your hands more often and covering your cough when your loved one with a compromised immune system (in this case your loved one with CF) is present.

There’s nothing quite like the heartbreak of having to make the decision to miss out on sharing these special days with the ones you love. Our hearts race with anxiety as we weigh the risks of exposure and have to make that difficult decision, mulling over the unfair realities of a life with CF and the perceived disappointment of those we love, if we cannot commit to attending a celebration. Speaking as someone with CF, more than anything we do not want to miss out on such a special time of making new memories or be vacant from the irreplaceable presence of love shared with our friends and family. But, we must be protective of every breath we are given - all in hopes of the chance to spend another holiday sharing in the beauty and love of the season.

 

 

 

Disclaimer: The writings and postings of Breathe 3-65 are a reflection of the personal opinions, experiences, and knowledge of the contributing author. Breathe Bravely is not liable for the statements and personal opinions shared. The material of Breathe 3-65 is provided with the best intention and great care is taken to share information from credible sources. However, the content shared on this blog is not medical advice and is not under any condition a substitute for the medical advice provided by your medical providers. Please consult your care team before making any changes or additions to your current CF treatment plan.

5 Tips to Help Protect those with CF this Cold & Flu Season

It’s that wonderful time of year again - the start of cold and flu season. A cold or flu for most can be a nuisance and an inconvenience that lasts one to two weeks and the worst of it lasts just a few days. But for someone with CF it can mean months of oral and IV antibiotics, a trip to the hospital, the loss of lung function, or even fatality. Here are 5 helpful tips to help those you love with CF stay healthy:

  1. Wash your hands. A lot. The best defense against spreading germs and limiting contamination is by making sure your hands are clean. The cold and flu virus can live on your hands without you being infected but you can be spread through everything you touch. Don’t have a sink or soap handy? A dab of hand sanitizer will help protect you and those you love.
     
  2. Cover that cough and sneeze. Recent studies have shown that a cough or sneeze travels much farther than originally thought. Up to 200 times farther!

    Also, it’s been found that certain coughs and sneezes can stay airborne long enough to enter ventilation systems, spreading them further and potentially harming more people. Try coughing into your elbow or a tissue followed by washing your hands or a quick squirt of hand sanitizer.
     
  3. Get a flu shot. When you get a flu shot you’re not only protecting yourself from severe complications of the flu but you’re also protecting those with CF or any other compromised immune system.
     
  4. If you’re sick, please stay home. Just a quick trip to the grocery store or pharmacy when you’re sick can put those of us with CF unknowingly at risk.
     
  5. Have plans with someone with CF and you’ve been sick all week or have a cold? Let your loved one with CF know you haven’t been feeling well (or if someone in your house hasn’t been well), so they can make the tough decision whether or not to keep plans. It’s not fun having to cancel plans because of such a risk but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
     

Help us all stay healthy this cold and flu season! For more information on the dangers of germs and cystic fibrosis please visit our previous post, "Clearly Invisible : Danger."

Disclaimer: The writings and postings of Breathe 3-65 are a reflection of the personal opinions, experiences, and knowledge of the contributing author. Breathe Bravely is not liable for the statements and personal opinions shared. The material of Breathe 3-65 is provided with the best intention and great care is taken to share information from credible sources. However, the content shared on this blog is not medical advice and is not under any condition a substitute for the medical advice provided by your medical providers. Please consult your care team before making any changes or additions to your current CF treatment plan.

Clearly Invisible : Cross-infection and Community

This segment of the blog is dedicated to shedding light on the invisible side of CF- striving to spark dialogue, cultivate understanding, and encourage compassion between all of us.

324.5 million people live in the United States. The majority of us are seeking to find a community of people in which we belong - sharing similar experiences, thoughts, and friendships. These communities are bonded through deepest empathy - enduring similar journeys of struggle and triumph.

Just 30, 000 people in the United States live with cystic fibrosis. It’s an incredible community all its own, and like so many things that bring a community together CF is no exception. But, did you know it is recommended that people with CF have no physical contact or maintain at the very least a distance of six feet between each other? It is because of the possibility and risk of cross-infection.

Why is cross-infection so important? 
People with CF harbor certain germs and bacteria that can be extremely detrimental to the health of another person with CF. Bacteria and germs in people with CF can vary from person to person, making exposure to one another an important factor in limiting the introduction of new bacteria and germs that could have significant and irreversible effects.  

Isolation & Community
These guidelines have just recently come into practice over the last several years, as scientists and doctors learn more and more about CF. CF is an invisible disease to most people but what is even harder to see is the isolation it creates from the very community of people who truly understand and embody life with the disease. It’s a cruel and unapologetic part of the disease that thankfully has been lessened by today’s use of social media and Facetime – allowing deep friendships to form and a foundation for unprecedented empathy and support. We at Breathe Bravely feel extremely privileged to be a part of the CF community – a place where all who are impacted by the disease can come together and know they are never truly alone.

 

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Disclaimer: The writings and postings of Breathe 3-65 are a reflection of the personal opinions, experiences, and knowledge of the contributing author. Breathe Bravely is not liable for the statements and personal opinions shared. The material of Breathe 3-65 is provided with the best intention and great care is taken to share information from credible sources. However, the content shared on this blog is not medical advice and is not under any condition a substitute for the medical advice provided by your medical providers. Please consult your care team before making any changes or additions to your current CF treatment plan.

Clearly Invisible : Danger

This segment of the blog is dedicated to shedding light on the invisible side of CF- striving to spark dialogue, cultivate understanding, and encourage compassion between all of us.

 

The world is a big beautiful place, fraught with possibility. We awake feeling invincible and ready to take on the adventure of life. But, many do not see that woven within the beauty that surrounds us are dangers unseeable to the eye. Dangers that could cause great harm to someone with CF. Dangers that to most people might cause a pesky cold or irritating virus but for someone with CF could cause weeks in the hospital, months of extra treatments, endless antibiotics and their side effects, and irreparable lung damage.

The door handle touched by an unwashed hand, an uncovered cough, or a forceful sneeze can all pose severe risks to someone with CF. A person with CF's immune systems is highly compromised and their lungs are a perfect environment for dangerous bacteria to thrive. It is easy to dismiss the dangers of a cold, cough, or unwashed hands because we cannot directly see the effects of their microscopic deadly presence. But they are there.

 

People with CF spend countless hours a day doing treatments and taking fistfuls of medications to stay as healthy as possible. They dedicate themselves to hours of fighting CF for a chance at another tomorrow. You can help in that fight. Please wash your hands, cover that cough by coughing into an elbow or shoulder, and staying home when sick. It truly could save a life. 

 

To learn more about germs and CF read this personal blog post from Breathe Bravely: Sharing Is Caring.

Disclaimer: The writings and postings of Breathe 3-65 are a reflection of the personal opinions, experiences, and knowledge of the contributing author. Breathe Bravely is not liable for the statements and personal opinions shared. The material of Breathe 3-65 is provided with the best intention and great care is taken to share information from credible sources. However, the content shared on this blog is not medical advice and is not under any condition a substitute for the medical advice provided by your medical providers. Please consult your care team before making any changes or additions to your current CF treatment plan.