Fibrosis, pulmonary

Other names: Pulmonary fibrosis

DEFINITION

Pulmonary fibrosis occurs when lung tissue becomes damaged and scarred, making it harder for the lungs to function properly. As the condition progresses, individuals experience increasing shortness of breath. The scarring can be caused by various factors, with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis being a common term when the cause is unknown. While the lung damage is irreversible, medications and therapies can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life.

SYMPTOMS

CAUSES

Factors leading to pulmonary fibrosis include environmental toxins, radiation treatments, medications (such as chemotherapy drugs), and certain medical conditions like tuberculosis and pneumonia. Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis may be triggered by viruses, tobacco smoke exposure, or genetic factors.

RISK FACTORS

COMPLICATIONS

PREPARING FOR YOUR APPOINTMENT

Before seeing a pulmonologist for suspected lung issues, prepare by noting symptoms, medical history, medications taken, smoking habits, occupational exposures, family history of lung diseases, past cancer treatments, and other relevant health conditions. Consider having a companion for emotional support and to aid in information retention.

TESTS AND DIAGNOSIS

Diagnostic tests may include imaging tests like chest X-rays and CT scans, lung function tests, oximetry to measure blood oxygen levels, exercise stress tests, and obtaining a tissue sample through procedures like bronchoscopy or surgical biopsy.

TREATMENTS AND DRUGS

While lung scarring in pulmonary fibrosis is irreversible, treatments focus on symptom management and improving quality of life. These may include medications like corticosteroids and immune suppressants, oxygen therapy to ease breathing difficulties, pulmonary rehabilitation programs for physical and emotional support, and in severe cases, lung transplantation.

LIFESTYLE AND HOME REMEDIES

Key lifestyle measures include quitting smoking, maintaining a nutritious diet despite potential weight loss from breathing difficulties, and ensuring vaccination against respiratory infections to prevent symptom exacerbation.

COPING AND SUPPORT

Education about the disease and participation in pulmonary rehabilitation programs can aid in coping with the progressive nature of pulmonary fibrosis.


QUESTIONS

  1. What is pulmonary fibrosis?

Pulmonary fibrosis occurs when lung tissue becomes damaged and scarred.

  1. What are the common symptoms of pulmonary fibrosis?

Shortness of breath, dry cough, fatigue, unexplained weight loss, aching muscles and joints.

  1. What are some causes of pulmonary fibrosis?

Factors include environmental toxins, radiation treatments, medications like chemotherapy drugs, and certain medical conditions.

  1. Who is at higher risk for developing pulmonary fibrosis?

Older adults, smokers or former smokers, individuals with occupational exposures to toxins or pollutants damaging the lungs.

  1. What complications can arise from pulmonary fibrosis?

Complications may include pulmonary hypertension, right-sided heart failure, respiratory failure, and an increased risk of lung cancer.

  1. How can one prepare for a medical appointment regarding suspected pulmonary fibrosis?

By noting symptoms, medical history including past treatments and family history of lung diseases; also consider having a companion for support.

  1. What diagnostic tests are commonly used for pulmonary fibrosis?

Imaging tests like chest X-rays and CT scans; lung function tests; oximetry; exercise stress tests; and obtaining tissue samples through bronchoscopy or surgical biopsy.

  1. Are there effective treatments for reversing lung scarring in pulmonary fibrosis?

Lung scarring is irreversible; treatments focus on symptom management and improving quality of life.

  1. What lifestyle changes are recommended for individuals with pulmonary fibrosis?

Quitting smoking; maintaining a nutritious diet despite potential weight loss; ensuring vaccination against respiratory infections.

  1. How can individuals cope with the progressive nature of pulmonary fibrosis?

Education about the disease and participation in pulmonary rehabilitation programs can aid in coping with its progression.