Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, commonly referred to only as IPF, is a progressive disease of the lung. It is a form of interstitial lung disease that causes scarring (fibrosis) of the lung tissue. Over a period of time, as the disease progresses, the scarring gets worse and it becomes difficult for the person to breathe properly. The lungs are also unable to take in sufficient oxygen. As this shortness of breath in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis becomes worse, your doctor may suggest putting you on pulmonary rehabilitation (PR). This is a type of rehabilitation that is aimed at people who face chronic breathing difficulties. Apart from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, pulmonary rehabilitation is also used in the treatment of cystic fibrosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Here are the benefits of pulmonary rehabilitation for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

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What is Pulmonary Rehabilitation?

Pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) is a program designed for helping you learn how to breathe properly and function to the highest level possible in spite of suffering from lung disease. The pulmonary rehabilitation program focuses on exercise, education, and support to help patients of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, COPD, and other lung diseases that make it difficult for people to breathe properly.

Benefits of Pulmonary Rehabilitation for Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis

Learning New Breathing Techniques

For people suffering from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, one of the most uncomfortable aspects of the disease is the inability to breathe normally as you used to before having the disease. The program of pulmonary rehabilitation is designed to help patients of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis learn new and different techniques for breathing that would make you feel comfortable.

These new breathing techniques learnt in pulmonary rehabilitation will help you increase the intake of oxygen. This may also help reduce further scarring of the lungs and also prevent other IPF-related complications.

Pulmonary rehabilitation breathing techniques also help you build your endurance, allowing you to exercise for a longer time and more often.

Get back to an Active Lifestyle with Pulmonary Rehabilitation

Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis or IPF makes it difficult for people to breathe normally, which stops you from carrying out your regular exercise routine. When you begin the pulmonary rehab program, you will have to undergo several tests that measure your exercising capabilities and your overall fitness level. Some therapists also measure your muscle mass in order to design the best workout catered to your strengths and weaknesses. These workouts will help you increase your exercising capabilities and also improve your overall fitness. Your pulmonary rehab therapist will also educate you on how to breathe properly while exercising with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, so that you don't feel tired too soon. If your idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis causes your oxygen levels to fall, then oxygen therapy may also be used during pulmonary rehabilitation.

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Guiding you Towards a Proper Diet

A pulmonary rehabilitation program includes a host of experts, one of them being a nutritionist.

Breathing problems and loss of appetite are two of the common problems in people having idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis or IPF. Due to this, IPF patients often experience unintentional weight loss. When you start losing weight due to lack of eating, it can impact your health in many negative ways. This also depletes your body of many of the important nutrients it requires to function properly.

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On the other hand, if you are overweight or obese and suffer from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, then this is going to aggravate your breathing problems, and also worsen your shortness of breath.

When you are undergoing pulmonary rehabilitation, a nutritionist will be working with you to ensure that you are getting all the nutrients your body needs. They will also design a meal plan for your specific condition and also advise you how to eat comfortably in spite of having idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

Stress Management with Pulmonary Rehabilitation

Suffering from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is going to put you under a lot of stress. Over a period of time, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis may also eventually cause depression and anxiety. If you feel you are suffering mentally from your condition, then you may consider seeing a mental health professional. However, apart from seeing a professional, you should also consider making certain changes in your daily lifestyle that will also have a profound effect on your emotional and mental well-being.

A pulmonary rehabilitation program can help you make these changes through a healthier diet and exercise. Both these factors will help lower your anxiety and also help you cope with depression and stress levels caused by idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Pulmonary rehabilitation also helps you develop some strategies that help in managing high-stress levels.

Pulmonary Rehabilitation Increases Your Knowledge About IPF

It is important to learn as much as you possible can about idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis when you have to live with this condition. Education is one of the key components of any pulmonary rehabilitation program. The pulmonary rehab program lasts for a couple of months, ensuring that by the end of it, you have all the tools you need to deal with your idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis once the rehabilitation program comes to an end.

The pulmonary rehab program will educate you about idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, about your symptoms, and about long-term idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis management strategies.

Through the pulmonary rehab program, you might even be able to find and join IPF or idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis support groups and other related events. You will also be able to gain information on new and upcoming medications and new treatment options for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

Higher Levels of Energy After Joining Pulmonary Rehabilitation

By doing regular exercise, having a healthy diet, and taking care of yourself, you will be able to battle against the complications of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and get back to feeling like your usual self once again. It is common to feel fatigued from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, as you are not able to eat and neither are you able to exercise.

Furthermore, anxiety and depression also sap you of energy.

Over a period of time, the pulmonary rehab program and your efforts will help you find more energy to once again start doing the things you used to enjoy before.

Improvement in Your IPF Symptoms, Thanks to Pulmonary Rehab

All parts of a pulmonary rehabilitation program work together to improve the symptoms of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. While helping you learn new breathing techniques will usually take a priority over other facets of the pulmonary rehab program; there are other parts of PR, such as stress management, nutrition, and exercise that will boost your body's ability to fight off this IPF.

However, keep in mind that pulmonary rehabilitation does not have a direct effect on improving lung function. However, pulmonary rehabilitation will help increase the functioning of your lungs in its present condition. This will also help in reducing the breathing problems and also provides relief in other symptoms, such as a dry cough.

Conclusion

Pulmonary rehabilitation can greatly benefit patients suffering from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. However, keep in mind that pulmonary rehabilitation is not a replacement for your medical treatment. Pulmonary rehabilitation combined with your medical treatment will help you manage your condition better and will also improve the quality of your life.

However, before you start pulmonary rehabilitation, you need to understand that by beginning this program, you are making a big commitment and it will now become a part of your life. After all, without consistency, you will not be able to gain the maximum benefits from pulmonary rehabilitation towards your fight against idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD,FFARCSI

Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: February 27, 2019

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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