Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Tune-Ups Explained

Preventive care is a cornerstone of effective treatment for cystic fibrosis. A “tune-up” is a term used in the cystic fibrosis community to refer to a preventive course of intravenous antibiotics and respiratory therapy. Depending on the doctor’s preference and the specific case of the individual with CF, a “tune up” can last from 2 to 4 weeks. Usually a tune up is started in the hospital, where the CF specialist and team can keep a close eye on things with regard to dosages of antibiotics, and any changes in pulmonary function.

Some CF specialists and CF centers maintain a practice of preventive “tune ups” every six months

The practice of regularly scheduling a tune-up can be especially beneficial for young adults with cystic fibrosis who may not always be the most compliant with their medications. By giving them a boost of antibiotics and bronchotherapy before they exhaust themselves and deplete their health reserves, they will be in a better state health-wise to continue as many normal activities as possible with their peers.

Similarly, many college students with CF have found that by scheduling a tune-up during their semester breaks, they are able to regain some of the ground they lost due to stress during the school term. Checking yourself into the hospital for a tune-up while classes are not in session is a great way to keep from missing important class notes and lectures.

The most difficult part of a preventive tune-up is that the patient may not feel as sick and worn out as during other times requiring IV therapy. This makes the resting and recuperating part of a tune-up a challenge, because the temptation is there to remain active and continue in all normal activities. The powerful combination of antibiotics may actually make a person feel worse for a time, but a rebound is almost always sure to follow. Even though a person may feel “fine” during a tune-up, it’s important that they rest, stay well hydrated, and use the time to replenish the body.

The hope and goal is to prevent repeated hospitalizations due to pulmonary exacerbations, pneumonia, or other worsening of symptoms.

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