Click to rate this post!
[Total: 1 Average: 5]

Is It Possible to Live With a single lung?

Cancer-like diseases and accidental injuries that damage the lungs can lead to the removal of one or a part of the lungs. This operation is called a pneumonectomy. The lungs, responsible for the distribution of oxygen to tissues and organs while ensuring the removal of waste materials in the blood from the body, are vital organs. However, people who have one of their lungs removed for any reason can continue their lives, albeit with certain daily and physical restrictions. After removing one of the lungs, one must improve living standards and healthy habits.

How Does the Body Adapt to Living with a single lung?

Removal of one of the lungs leads to several changes in the body. However, the human body gets used to this over time. After surgery, the adaptation period is not difficult. The body adapts to living with a single lung in different ways.

In some cases, the remaining lung in the body may expand enough to fill the area of ​​the removed lung and maintain its capacity. The lung that expands this way acquires the habit of compensating for the body's deficient oxygen.

Patients with pneumonectomy often think they will not be able to live as before and will often encounter problems such as shortness of breath.

However, as the only remaining lung in the body increases its capacity and the patient makes lifestyle changes, such problems are not faced. When the body is trying to get used to new conditions, the individual has essential duties.

Patients should practice new habits such as slight activity without forcing themselves, avoiding heavy exercises, and quitting smoking to adapt to their new lives quickly. After the surgery, the body adapts, and the patient can continue to live with a single lung without any problems.

Healing Process After Pneumonectomy

Removal of one of the lungs initiates the healing and adaptation process in the body. This process, which is long and complicated, according to most people, is not as scary as it seems. Lungs are organs that meet the respiratory needs of the body, and therefore the first two months after the operation are critical for the patient. Generally, the first weeks after surgery are tough for patients with difficulty breathing. Shortness of breath may occur intermittently for up to 6 months. However, difficulty in breathing is not just about lung performance; anxiety, fear, and stress can also lead to these reactions. These psychological factors can make the process more difficult by increasing the need for deep breathing.
For this reason, the emotional state of the patients after the surgery directly affects the speed of recovery. The patient needs to adapt mentally to the changes in the body, so trying self-relaxing methods such as meditation will positively impact the healing process. We recommend consulting a specialist and receiving psychological support during this process.

The adaptation period after the surgery takes an average of 6 months to 1 year. During this time, the body fully adapts to living with one lung. However, in this process, symptoms such as changes in heart rate, high fever, increase in arterial pressure, respiratory failure, and edema formation may occur from time to time. For this reason, patients need to visit a doctor frequently. Discharged patients should be followed up and re-evaluated, depending on their manifestation of the symptoms.

Quality of Life After Lung Removal

Patients with one lung should know they will continue their everyday lives after the operation. The rehabilitation process that comes with new habits, such as regular doctor control, a healthy diet, and calm living standards, increases the lung volume in the body.

Performing breathing exercises increases the number of cells in the lung in a short time. The more frequently and regularly exercise, the better the lung capacity. For this reason, quality of life, exercise, and psychological support are essential.

Additionally, fresh air and being in nature also help to improve breathing. Patients who pay attention to their diet, daily activities, and mental health can maintain a long-term quality of life with one lung.

Nutrition After Pneumonectomy

A healthy diet program is essential to have a quality life standard while living with one lung. Beneficial changes in eating habits will positively affect the full performance of the lungs in the body and the development of healthy cells. The recommended diet program to ensure the adaptation and better functioning of the lungs is as follows:

  • There may be difficulty breathing while eating, especially in the first weeks after pneumonectomy. Therefore, first of all, foods that are easy to swallow and chew should be preferred. Until the recovery, feeding with both nutritious and soft foods such as soup and fruit juice is beneficial.
  • Eating in large bites makes breathing more difficult; small bites at small and frequent intervals are recommended.
  • Foods rich in vitamins C and E help the body heal faster. While vitamin C ensures healthy oxygen transport to the cells, vitamin E increases the regeneration rate of the cells.
  • Antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables protect the body from infections and cleanse it from toxins.
  • According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), eating 4-5 portions of fresh fruit and vegetables daily is good for lung health.
  •  Fat-free meats are preferable for protein, such as beef, chicken, and fish, and preferably must be cooked in the oven or grill.
  • Reading product labels is essential for foods high in trans fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol—unsaturated fats in foods such as fish, hazelnuts, and olives.
  • Salt can cause edema as it retains water; therefore, avoiding the trio of flour, salt, and sugar and minimizing their consumption is necessary.
  • Drinking at least six glasses of water daily is essential for lung health. 
  • However, smoking and tiring work can disrupt the patient's recovery. For this reason, avoiding harmful habits and replacing them with healthy ones is recommended.

In conclusion, Patients with one lung should be aware of their limits and adapt to new life standards by following the nutrition program. Before surgery, smokers should quit smoking for faster recovery and recurrence of complaints such as shortness of breath.

Although living with one lung brings some limitations, patients can protect their body health and increase their lung capacity with various breathing exercises and physical activity.

Getting psychological support and maintaining morale and motivation is a lifelong habit. A positive attitude from the beginning of the process and regular visits to the doctor will help the person adapt to the process more quickly. Patients who live according to all these can live healthy life by achieving a quality standard.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.