Pulmonary Fibrosis

Pulmonary fibrosis is a terminal lung disease.  The lung tissue in the lungs becomes damaged and scarred.  This scarring continues and worsens overtime.  This disease stops lungs from expanding properly.

Pulmonary fibrosis can cause severe shortness of breath that can last for days.  Pinpointing the cause of what causes Pulmonary fibrosis can be very tricky, sometimes the cause is never found. 

This is a disease that cannot be repaired or treated.  It affects about 200,000 people in the United States.  

Symptoms

Symptoms can occur quickly or develop overtime.  The severity of the symptoms vary from person to person.  The main symptom of Pulmonary fibrosis is shortness of breath.  Other symptoms are dry cough, fatigue, unexplained weight loss, aching muscles or joints, widening or rounding of the fingertips or tips of your toes, or cyanosis.

As the disease progresses some people may experience acute exacerbation episodes.  These episodes may cause rapid worsening causing severe shortness of breath that may last for a few days.

Risk Factors

There are a few things that have been linked with Pulmonary fibrosis, though nailing down the actual culprit can be tricky for medical professionals.  Smoking can play a role in developing Pulmonary fibrosis.  It is more common in someone who has a family history of Pulmonary fibrosis, some types could be hereditary.

Long term exposure to toxins such as silica dust, asbestos fibers, hard metal dusts, coal dust, grain dust, or bird or animal droppings, have also shown to be a cause of Pulmonary fibrosis.  Another cause could be radiation treatments.  Certain medications can also be a cause like chemotherapy drugs, heart medications, antibiotics, or anti-inflammatory drugs.

Having other medical conditions can also link to Pulmonary fibrosis.  Some of these conditions are Dermatomyositis, Polymyositis, Rheumatoid arthritis, Scleroderma, or Pneumonia.  There are a few risk factors that make you more at risk of getting Pulmonary fibrosis.  These include being between the age of 50 and 70, gender plays a role it is more common for men to get this disease, and smoking.  As well as your work environment if you happen to work around exposure to toxins.

Diagnosis

Diagnosing will start with a physical exam by your doctor.  They will also want to know what your family history is and if anyone in your family suffers from Pulmonary fibrosis.  They may want to do a few tests.  A chest x-ray will be able to see the scar tissue in the lungs.  If a chest x-ray doesn’t pick up anything, doing a CT scan of the lungs can show the extent of lung damage.

Echocardiograms can evaluate the amount of pressure on the heart.  Other things your doctor may want to do are pulmonary function test, pulse oximetry to measure the oxygen saturation in your blood, exercise stress test that will measure your lung function white active, arterial blood gas test, or a tissue sample.  Tissue samples may be done as a last resort if other tests are inconclusive.

Treatment

There is no cure for Pulmonary fibrosis.  It is considered a terminal disease.  The treatment focuses on easing symptoms and improving quality of life.  Treatment can include medications, oxygen therapy, pulmonary rehabilitation, or a lung transplant.  Treatment may include just one of these treatments, or a combination of a few of them.  It is important to follow your treatment plan that your doctor gives you.  It is also important to stop smoking.  Eating a healthy diet as well as doing daily exercises.  Make sure though that you rest when you need to, and not to overdo.

Pulmonary fibrosis is a lung disease that can cause a person’s lung function to stop working properly.  In severe cases the use of a ventilator may be requested.  Symptoms may worsen quickly or take years to progress.  The cause can sometimes be unknown as to why this disease has developed.  Following a treatment plan can help ease symptoms and improve quality of life.

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