Pulmonary Fibrosis

Pulmonary Fibrosis is Fibrosis of the lungs and “Fibrosis” is a term used to refer to scarring.  So Pulmonary Fibrosis means scarring throughout the lungs.  This disease can be caused by many conditions including tuberculosis, and chronic inflammatory processes.  It can also be caused by infections, environmental agents (asbestos, silica,) and exposure to certain gases.  It has also been proven that being exposed to ionizing radiation, such as radiation therapy, which is used to treat tumors of the chest can cause the disease as well.

Symptoms with Pulmonary Fibrosis can vary depending on the severity of the condition.  Some symptoms are shortness of breath, coughing, and running out of steam while exercising.  This condition can be diagnosed by a Pulmonologist.  The testing to diagnose this condition would be a variety of test such as a complete family history, chest x-ray, and possibly a CT scan.    The chest x-ray may or may not be abnormal but a CT scan is a high resolution scan that will show definite abnormalities in the lungs and chest.  If the condition is not treated, symptoms will worsen over time, which could cause even more serious issues.  Unfortunately, the treatment options for Pulmonary Fibrosis are very limited.  When scarring of the lung occurs it is permanent.  Lung transplantation is the only therapeutic option available.  As far as medications, it has not been proven for all to be successful.  Some patients have tried corticosteroids, such as prednisone, to decrease the process of fibrosis.  Treatment responses vary with each patient, depending on the severity and progression.  Pulmonary Fibrosis causes decreased oxygen levels in the blood. A decrease in the blood oxygen level can lead to increased pressure in the pulmonary artery, which can lead to failure in the right ventricle of the heart.  Most patients with this disease are treated with supplemental oxygen to prevent this from happening.  There is also evidence that patients suffering with this disease are at risk for blood clots the travel to the lung, in this case a blood thinning therapy may be needed.

Is there a way to prevent ever developing the disease? Research has shown Pulmonary Fibrosis has shown an increase in cigarette smokers.  This is just one more reason not to smoke or if you do. Unfortunately, the prognosis of this disease is dismal.  There has not been any proven evidence that special diets or supplements have helped the disease in any way.

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