What you must know about pulmonary fibrosis
Pulmonary means something related to lungs, and fibrosis means scarring. So the term Pulmonary Fibrosis means scarring in the lungs. In this condition, scars are formed inside the lung tissues, and it leads to serious respiratory issues. Scarring makes your lungs to become stiffer and less pliant, so they are less able to move and take oxygen from the air you breathe. The walls of the tissues also get thickened, and this leads to a limited supply of oxygen to the lungs, which in turn leads to shortness of breath and the inability of the blood to collect oxygen. It affects the lace-like network of the air sacs in the lungs.
Although there is no particular cure for this problem, some patients can be cured by knowing the cause of the disease. There are also some patients whose cause cannot be found by the medical sciences till date. But it is known that is not a form of cancer or any other life-threatening disease and is also not infectious.
- Inhalation of environmental dust particles usually asbestos, silicosis.
- Geneticin some cases, when a mutation in surfactant protein C was found in family members, leading to pulmonary fibrosis.
- Allergy-causing particles which are person-specific. Being exposed to allergens might also cause this disease.
- Due to some other disease like rheumatoid arthritis, sarcoidosis or some unsuitable medication usage.
- Due to occupational exposure to dust, fumes, and radiation. Radiation therapy can also lead to it.
- Viral and bacterial infections
- Cigarette smoking can make you more vulnerable to this problem.
- Shortness of breath, specifically after strenuous activities.
- Acute dry coughing
- Feeling of tiredness most of the time without any reason.
- Uneasiness and heaviness in the chest
- Loss of hunger and no mood to have food.
- X-rays and CT scan: X-ray is the most common and widely used test for any disease. This will be taken for seeing the condition of the lung; if some kind of scarring or blocking will appear in the X-ray, then the doctor will begin with the treatment. It is also a possibility that the X-ray does not show any scarring though the doctor believes it to be there. In that case, or for further confirmation he may ask you to get a CT scan which will give a very clear and detailed image of the chest making it crystal clear about the disease.
- Lung Function Tests: Usually these involve breathing into an instrument which checks the detailed composition of your breath. It would indicate whether you have any problem related to the lungs or not by a medical professional. These tests can also be an option for detecting this problem.
- Lung Biopsy: This involves placement of various tubes inside the chest wall, out of which one is taken out and sent out for examining if there is a presence of pulmonary fibrosis or not. It is assisted by a video. The sample taken out is checked under a microscope for the presence of any particles that might have caused this disease.
There is a possibility that a patient might be having idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, this means that there is no known cause to it. In these circumstances, no medications are found useful. The only viable option left is lung transplantation, that too in extreme cases.
Anti-inflammatory agents are limited in scope in the treatment of pulmonary fibrosis. Corticosteroids are usually prescribed for interstitial pneumonia. Research trials are going on in this area of medicine, and various drugs are being tested for any success in treating this disease.
In treating mild idiopathic fibrosis, two of the medicinal drugs are doing their job perfectly. These are Pirfenidone, which helps in reducing the shortness of breath while doing any activity and the second one is Nintedanib, which acts against fibrosis and helps in its cure.
Supply of oxygen from external sources is another option considered by the medical team to decrease the damage caused by pulmonary fibrosis. This can be made permanent or temporary depending on the nature of your problem. Take care of your health and prevent this disease.