4. Get regular exercise.
Exercise can make a big difference in keeping your lungs healthy. "In general," Metcalf says, "you want to remain as active as you are able."
Upper-body exercises and walking or bike riding are great ways to maintain lung health.
If you're not active now, tell your doctor before you start a new exercise plan. Start off slowly, with even just a few minutes a day, and build intensity as your endurance and strength improve.
5. Watch your weight and your diet.
A balanced diet with plenty of fruits and veggies helps keep all of you healthy, including your lungs.
One way to lower blood pressure and lose weight is the DASH diet. Or cut out processed foods, says J. Michael Petway, MD, a lung expert in Cumming, Ga. You'll eat much less sodium.
Protein is important for lung health. Tofu, beans, nuts, and Greek yogurt fit the bill. They also tend to cost less and are less fatty than red meat.
Eden advises getting plenty of vitamin D, which also promotes lung health. Always talk to your doctor before taking a supplement.
6. Avoid alcohol.
AAT deficiency affects your liver as well as your lungs, so you are more likely to get liver damage than most people. Don't drink alcohol, or make it very rare.
7. Stick to your treatment plan.
- Take your prescription medications as directed. Don't skip doses just because you're feeling better.
- See a lung doctor regularly.
- Follow doctor's orders for lung and liver tests.
- Think about using a pulse oximeter at home. It painlessly measures the oxygen in your blood, so you and your doctor can know when you may need a change in treatment.
Family and friends can help you keep track of your medicines or doctor's appointments. Don't be afraid to ask.
8. Get the emotional support you need.
If you're feeling scared, sad, worried, or angry, talk to someone about it. Ask your doctor about counseling or support groups. It can also help to spend time with other people who have AAT deficiency; they understand what you're going through.