What Are The Presenting Features Of Restrictive Lung Disease & How Is It Treated?

What is Restrictive Lung Disease ?

Restrictive Lung Disease is the name given to a collection of lung disorder that restrict the ability of the lungs to expand fully when inspiration or taking in air for breathing. The majority of the conditions that come under Restrictive Lung Disease are incurable and treatment is aimed at controlling the symptoms through medications and exercises. Chronic lung disorders are divided into two categories based on how they affect the breathing of the patient. They are either obstructive or restrictive. There are rare instances of a mixed disease in which the characteristics of both of the above mentioned categories are found. This is mostly seen in people who have COPD along with congestive heart failure.[2]

Conditions that come under obstructive lung disease include COPD, asthma, and emphysema. In obstructive lung disease the lungs are not able to expel the carbon dioxide from the body completely thereby depleting the oxygen levels. Restrictive Lung Disease on the other hand is a disease where the lungs are not able to inhale oxygen efficiently. This condition results in decreased lung capacity and volume as a result of which the rate of breathing is often high due to the increased need of oxygen by the body.[2]

Majority of cases of Restrictive Lung Disease are progressive meaning that they tend to worsen as the condition advances. A study estimates that around 7% of Americans between 2007 and 2010 had Restrictive Lung Disease with their average age between 30 and 80 years. Restrictive Lung Disease is often understudied even though it is quite common. This condition results in the affected individual having reduced tolerance to exercise and their functional capacity is overall lower than average.[1]

The best way to treat Restrictive Lung Disease is by way of pulmonary rehabilitation which teaches new ways of improving breathing and also increasing exercise tolerance. It also is quite effective in improving the overall quality of life of the patient. They also decrease the need of the patient to be admitted to the hospital for Restrictive Lung Disease and other complications that may arise as a result of it. This article gives a brief overview of the types of Restrictive Lung Disease, the presenting features, and the treatment options available to manage the condition.[1]

What Are The Presenting Features Of Restrictive Lung Disease  & How Is It Treated?

What are the Presenting Features of Restrictive Lung Disease?

Before we get into the details of the presenting features of Restrictive Lung Disease, it is important to known the different types of Restrictive Lung Disease. This condition is basically divided into two categories namely extrinsic and intrinsic. In the intrinsic form of Restrictive Lung Disease, there is inflammation, stiffening, and scarring of the lung tissues. Some of the conditions that come under the intrinsic form of Restrictive Lung Disease include pneumonia, TB, sarcoidosis, lung cancer, interstitial lung disease, rheumatoid arthritis or rheumatoid lung disease, and inflammatory bowel disease to name a few.[2]

The extrinsic form of Restrictive Lung Disease is caused as a result of complications in the tissues and structures which do not form a part of the lungs. This even includes certain neurological conditions. These conditions are normally caused due to muscle weakness or nerve damage.[2]

Some of the medical conditions that come under extrinsic form of Restrictive Lung Disease include pleural effusion, scoliosis, multiple sclerosis, muscle dystrophy, obesity, and myasthenia gravis. Damage to the rib cage as a result of a trauma or injury can also at times results in Restrictive Lung Disease.[2]

Coming to the presenting features of Restrictive Lung Disease, both extrinsic and intrinsic Restrictive Lung Disease have similar symptoms. They include difficulty breathing normally with activities. The individual often finds it difficult to catch breath after minimal exertion. There is also chronic cough which does not resolve with any treatment.

The cough may at times be productive of white phlegm. The individual will have unintentional weight loss. He or she will frequently complain of chest pains.[2]

The individual will be always tired and exhausted and will find it challenging to do even simple tasks. Because of these symptoms and inability to do anything such patients often go into depression and tend to have persistent anxiety.[2]

How is Restrictive Lung Disease Treated?

With regard to treatment options for Restrictive Lung Disease, as stated most of the condition that comes under the umbrella of Restrictive Lung Disease do not have a cure. The treatment is mainly aimed at controlling the symptoms and improving the quality of life of the individual. For breathing difficulties, at times the patients require supplemental oxygen to assist in breathing. For severe cases of Restrictive Lung Disease, lung transplantation is provided as an option to treat the condition.[2]

Some of the medications that are preferred to treat the symptoms of Restrictive Lung Disease include azathioprine, steroid inhalers, methotrexate, antiinflammatory medications, and immunosuppressants. The patient may also be given medications to prevent scarring of the lung tissues. However, despite medications it may not be possible to prevent scarring caused due to Restrictive Lung Disease. Apart from the medical treatment, making certain lifestyle changes also are quite effective in improving the quality of life of the affected individual.[2]

These methods include practicing breathing exercises like pursed lip breathing which has shown to be quite effective in controlling the breathing rate and improve shortness of breath. This technique also allows the patient to carry out activities of daily living and exercises without much discomfort or problems. It is also important for an individual with Restrictive Lung Disease to practice exercises as and when they can to strengthen the upper and lower extremities.[2]

All this can be done if the patient enrolls in a pulmonary rehabilitation program. They will also be taught how to strengthen the muscles of respiration to make breathing easier for the patient. The patient will also be taught on how to eat a balanced diet and what all foods to eat and avoid to improve symptoms and having a better quality of life.[2]

If the individual sticks to the advice given by the physician and maintains a healthy lifestyle then the symptoms of Restrictive Lung Disease can be controlled to a great extent with improved ability to carry out various activities of daily living without any problems or discomfort.[2]

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