Pulmonary Fibrosis

In This Article We Will Discuss About:

What Is Pulmonary Fibrosis?

Pulmonary Fibrosis as stated is a pathological condition in which the lung tissue gets damaged and scarred making it difficult for the lungs to function appropriately resulting in problems with breathing normally. As this disease condition worsens, the shortness of breath starts to become increasingly severe. The scaring of the lungs can develop due to numerous causes but it is very difficult for the physician to detect as to what is causing the problem. In such cases, the disease condition is known as Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. The damage caused to the lungs as a result of Pulmonary Fibrosis is beyond repair but medications and therapies are available for control of symptoms and improve functional levels of an affected individual.

Pulmonary Fibrosis

What Are The Causes Of Pulmonary Fibrosis?

Pulmonary Fibrosis damages the lungs and scars them. It also thickens the tissue between the alveoli in the lungs, which makes it difficult for oxygen to pass through the lungs to the blood. This damage to the lungs can be caused by toxins in workplace which become airborne, underlying lung conditions, radiation therapy for cancers of the lung or breast, and certain medical treatments for other conditions.

Occupational And Environmental Causes For Pulmonary Fibrosis Are:

  • Chronic Exposure To The Following Substances:
    • Silica Dust
    • Asbestos fibers
    • Grain dust
    • Bird droppings such as in chicken or pigeon coops.
  • The Damage To The Lungs In Cases Of Exposure To Radiation For Treatment Of Lung Or Breast Cancers Depend On The Following:
    • The percentage of lung exposed to radiation
    • The amount of radiation treatment given
    • Whether chemotherapy was used in conjunction with radiation treatment.
  • Medications Which Can Cause Scarring Of The Lungs Resulting In Pulmonary Fibrosis Are:
    • Chemotherapy Medications
    • Cardiac Medications
    • Antibiotics like Macrobid, Azulfidine etc.
  • Certain Medical Conditions Which Can Cause Pulmonary Fibrosis Are:

Who Is At Risk For Developing Pulmonary Fibrosis?

  • Age: Although Pulmonary Fibrosis has been found to occur in children as well as infants but usually this condition is found to develop in middle-aged people and the elderly population.
  • Smoking: Smokers are more prone to develop Pulmonary Fibrosis than any other individual.
  • Occupation: If an individual is in an occupation where he or she is exposed to the above mentioned toxins then that individual is at an increased risk for developing Pulmonary Fibrosis.
  • Cancer Patients: Patients undergoing radiation and chemotherapy for treatment are also at increased risk for development of Pulmonary Fibrosis.
  • Genetic Predisposition: Certain forms of Pulmonary Fibrosis tend to run in families hence studies point to a genetic predisposition

What Are The Symptoms Of Pulmonary Fibrosis?

Some Of The Symptoms Of Pulmonary Fibrosis Are:

  • Dyspnea
  • Dry cough
  • Fatigue
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Muscles catch
  • Joint pain

How Is Pulmonary Fibrosis Diagnosed?

For diagnosing Pulmonary Fibrosis, the treating physician will conduct a detailed history and physical exam and order the following tests to confirm the diagnosis.

  • Chest x-ray: This study will reveal scar tissues which are quite typical for Pulmonary Fibrosis. In case, the chest x-ray comes back normal then other tests may also be conducted.
  • CT scan: This is a very helpful tool in determining the severity of lung damage as a result of Pulmonary Fibrosis.
  • Echocardiogram: This test will reveal the pressure on the right side of heart.
  • Pulmonary Function Testing: This test will determine the amount of oxygen that can beheld by the lungs at a time.
  • Oximetry: This test is also very helpful in determining the severity of the disease process.
  • Exercise Stress Test: This test can be done to determine the exercise tolerance of the affected individual
  • Biopsy: Apart from the above mentioned tests, a biopsy can also be done to look for scarring of the tissues.

What Are Treatments For Pulmonary Fibrosis?

As stated, the damage to the lungs caused by Pulmonary Fibrosis cannot be reversed but the symptoms caused by the disease condition can definitely be controlled. The treatment is usually three fold, which are medications, therapy, and surgery.

Medications For Pulmonary Fibrosis: The initial treatment for Pulmonary Fibrosis comprises of treatment with steroids like prednisone, which is at times given in combination with other medications which suppress the immune system like methotrexate. Adding acetylcysteine to prednisone may slow down disease progression. The only issue with these medication treatments is that they have been proved to be ineffective long term.

Oxygen Therapy For Pulmonary Fibrosis: Oxygen therapy helps an affected individual in the following ways:

  • Makes breathing easier
  • Improves exercise tolerance
  • Reduces complications due to reduced oxygen levels in the blood
  • Reduces blood pressure
  • Improves quality of sleep

Pulmonary Rehabilitation For Pulmonary Fibrosis: The goal of Pulmonary Rehabilitation is mainly to improve function and improve quality of life in affected individuals. The main focus of the exercises is to improve endurance and improve lung functioning.

Surgery For Pulmonary Fibrosis: Lung transplantation is the last resort and is used for people who have extremely advanced stage of Pulmonary Fibrosis and do not improve with the methods mentioned above.

Home Remedies For Pulmonary Fibrosis?

Certain home remedies to relieve symptoms and improve quality of life in an individual with Pulmonary Fibrosis are:

  • Smoking Cessation: If the affected individual is a smoker than that individual needs to stop smoking to prevent further damage to the lungs.
  • Diet: Eating a balanced and healthy diet is imperative to maintain proper functioning of the lungs and heart and also improve quality of life.
  • Getting Vaccinated: It is extremely important for an affected individual to get vaccinated from different respiratory infections as they tend to worsen the symptoms of Pulmonary Fibrosis.

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:

, MD, FFARCSI

Last Modified On: May 2, 2016

Pain Assist Inc.

Pramod Kerkar
  Note: Information provided is not a substitute for physician, hospital or any form of medical care. Examination and Investigation is necessary for correct diagnosis.

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