What to Do to Help Improve Well-Being
Using Cough Assist Regularly
When a person’s cough isn’t as effective, he needs help to cough deeply and clear the airways. There are two ways to assist a cough:
What’s important to remember though is that once cough assistance starts, it shouldn’t just be saved for when he feels ill. Your doctor may recommend cough assist be done daily to help maintain a clear airway and as a way to prevent the airways from getting blocked with mucus and the lungs from becoming restricted.
Knowing how to manually or mechanically aid a cough on a regular basis while living with DMD is critical.
“Eat well” is good advice for everyone, but it’s especially important to people with DMD. Good nutrition helps maintain an ideal body weight which is key to managing DMD long term. People with DMD should:
- Avoid being underweight or overweight; both are harmful to respiratory health
- Watch vitamin and mineral levels, especially vitamin D and calcium levels
- Ask your doctor before taking supplements to see if it is appropriate
As DMD progresses, there’s a greater chance of becoming underweight. Why? Because muscle strength weakens which can make it hard to swallow and prolong the time it takes to eat a meal (longer than 30 minutes), both of which can reduce the amount of food a person eats.
If weight loss persists, a feeding tube (called a gastrostomy tube or g-tube) might be something to think about. It’s important to talk to your care team to see if a tube is even a consideration.
Since the issue in DMD is weakening muscles, the question many ask is whether there are exercises people with DMD can do to strengthen their respiratory muscles. The answer is: it depends. Some could benefit from muscle training in the early stages of the disease. However, this will generally be for boys who are able to perform the exercises and follow the routine. The benefits of exercise can only be assessed on a case-by-case basis. That’s why it’s best to talk to your doctor or health care team before starting any kind of exercise program.