Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a chronic and progressive type of lung disease that is typically characterized by scarring (fibrosis) of the lung tissue. As Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis progresses, there is a marked and irreversible decline in the lung function. Symptoms of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis usually include the gradual onset of a dry cough and shortness of breath. The progression of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis is a slow process and takes place either over several months or sometimes over several years. If you start experiencing rapid onset of worsening symptoms, this usually indicates that you are experiencing an Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis flare-up, also referred to as an acute exacerbation. Undergoing an Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis flare-up can be difficult, as your symptoms become severe and your treatment might not work efficiently enough to manage the symptoms. So, how to manage a flare-up of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis? Let’s take a look.
How to Know If You Are Having Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Flare-Up?
One of the first and most obvious symptoms of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis is shortness of breath. If you are experiencing an Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis flare-up, then one of the first changes you will notice will likely be in your breathing. If you have earlier not experienced shortness of breath while sleeping or at times of rest, you may start experiencing it during an Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis flare-up. You may also experience a lot of difficulty in your overall breathing, especially during any activity.
Coughing is also likely to worsen during Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis flare-up.
Some of the other Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis symptoms occur over a period of time, as the disease advances. However, when you are experiencing Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis flare-up, you may begin to experience the following symptoms at a higher intensity and frequency: lack of appetite, increased stress, fatigue and aches and pains throughout the body.
You cannot determine whether you are experiencing a flare-up of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis by comparing your symptoms to another patient’s. This is because everybody’s symptoms are different and everyone’s experience of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis is also different. As a rule of thumb though, if you notice your Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis symptoms becoming worse and increasing in severity, it is more than likely that you are experiencing a flare-up of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis.
How To Manage A Flare-Up Of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis?
It is important that you inform your doctor if you feel you are experiencing a flare-up of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. Your doctor may prescribe you some additional medications during a flare-up of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis to help deal with the severe IPF symptoms you are experiencing. While the medications do not actually treat the Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis flares, they will still reduce the frequency and severity of some of the symptoms.
Some of the treatments you may be prescribed during a flare-up include:
- Oxygen therapy
- Antibiotics to treat any potential infections
- Cough suppressants
However, do not opt for taking any over-the-counter medications without your doctor’s consent.
Increasing Oxygen Intake to Manage IPF Flare-Up
During an Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis flare-up, one of the most common problems you will face will be with your breathing. Your lungs will be unable to consume as much oxygen as they need and this will not only make it more difficult to breathe, but will have an effect on your whole body as well. Your blood will not have sufficient intake of oxygen to produce red blood cells, and it will also be unable to deliver the required oxygen to other parts of the body, such as your brain.
Oxygen therapy helps manage this problem during a flare-up of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. According to the observations of the American Lung Association, most patients suffering from Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis end up requiring oxygen therapy at some point or the other during their disease. By providing your body with more oxygen during Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis flare-up, you ensure that the body keeps getting sufficient oxygen in order to keep all the organs and processes running smoothly. You will also feel more energetic after oxygen therapy.
If you are already taking oxygen therapy as part of your standard Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis treatment, then you might need to increase the amount of oxygen during a flare-up of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. This might require you to use oxygen therapy at night as well, apart from the daytime therapy you are already taking.
Rest is Crucial for IPF Flare-Up Management
It is very important that you get plenty of rest during an Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis flare-up. During a flare-up of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, you are more likely to feel fatigued than you normally do. This is primarily because you are not getting a sufficient amount of oxygen. As per the recommendations of the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, at least eight hours of sleep every night should be the bare minimum you should be getting. After a good night’s sleep, you will not only be more rested, but it will benefit your immune system as well.
Don’t Go Overboard on Physical Activities
When you have Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, it becomes difficult to remain physically active, particularly during a flare-up of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. It is important to get adequate rest to manage a flare-up of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. While you should not stop doing your physical activities completely, you do need to limit it only to a level you can sustain easily. Staying active is important during any illness, as it helps in boosting the body’s endurance, especially of your lungs. Exercise also increases the levels of serotonin in the body, which helps prevent depression, sadness and also lowers the levels of stress.
However, overdoing on physical activity during a flare-up of a flare-up of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis will sap you of your energy. You should try to take things slowly or reduce the intensity of your exercise routine. If you are undergoing pulmonary rehabilitation, then you need to make sure that you inform your team that you are experiencing idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis flare-up, as certain activities are off limit during a flare-up of IPF.
It is absolutely critical that when you suffer from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, you need to update your doctor or your healthcare team about any changes in your condition. These include any change in your symptoms as well as any changes in your appetite or overall health. You need to inform your doctor if you feel you are having an idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis flare-up, as they want to adjust your treatment or run additional tests if required.
- Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis: Causes, Stages, Symptoms, Treatment, Prognosis
- Why is Early Treatment Necessary for Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis?
- Know the 7 Hidden Warning Signs of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF)
- Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) vs. COPD
- 3 Ways to Slow Down the Progression of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis?
- 7 Benefits Of Pulmonary Rehabilitation For Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis