What Is Pulmonary Fibrosis?
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, you may be wondering, “What is pulmonary fibrosis?” Pulmonary fibrosis is a disease in which lung tissue becomes damaged and scarred. This scarring, which occurs around and between the air sacs in the lungs, can be the result of a number of factors, but doctors are often unsure of what exactly is causing the problem. However, the result is difficulty breathing and other progressive symptoms. The thick, stiff scar tissue pulmonary fibrosis causes in the lungs cannot be repaired, but the symptoms can be treated.
What Causes Pulmonary Fibrosis?
The majority of the time, doctors are unable to pinpoint the precise cause of pulmonary fibrosis. However, there can be a number of pulmonary fibrosis causes, including the following.
Environmental Pulmonary Fibrosis Causes
Long-term exposure to any of the toxins below can cause damage to the lungs.
- Bird or animal droppings
- Coal dust
- Grain dust
- Hard metal dust
- Silica dust
Medical Condition Pulmonary Fibrosis Causes
Certain medical conditions can cause lung damage.
- Mixed connective tissue disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Systemic lupus erythematosus
Medical Treatment Pulmonary Fibrosis Causes
Some medications and medical treatments can damage your lungs.
- Anti-inflammatory drugs: Rituximab and sulfaslazine
- Chemotherapy drugs: Cyclophosphamide and methotrexate
- Heart medications: Amiodarone
- Radiation treatments: For breast or lung cancer
- Select antibiotics: Ethambutol and nitrofurantoin
How to Treat Pulmonary Fibrosis
Pulmonary fibrosis treatment depends on the severity of the scarring in the lungs. While the damage to the lungs cannot be reversed and the progression of the disease cannot be stopped, treatment can help ease the symptoms of the disease. Treatments are aimed at improving the patient’s breathing and quality of life.
Depending on your particular disease and your symptoms, your doctor may prescribe any of the following:
- Lung Transplant: Because a lung transplant is a serious surgery with significant risks and potential complications, this treatment is reserved for patients for whom this is the best chance to improve quality of life.
- Medication: Your doctor may recommend certain medications, including pirfenidone or nintedanib, which could slow the progression of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
- Oxygen Therapy: Oxygen treatments could help make breathing easier for you, helping to improve your blood oxygen levels and making sleeping, exercise and daily activities easier.
- Pulmonary Rehabilitation: Pulmonary rehab can help improve your ability to function day to day while giving you the education you need to manage your symptoms as well as possible. It can include physical and/or breathing exercises, nutritional and medical education and counseling or support groups.
Talk to your doctor about which pulmonary fibrosis treatment is right for you and how you can manage your disease and symptoms most successfully for the best quality of life possible.
Risk Factors of Pulmonary Fibrosis
There are over 200 different kinds of pulmonary fibrosis. However, doctors are often unable to determine the cause. When doctors are unable to find what causes pulmonary fibrosis, it is called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. However, there are certain factors that could make you more likely to develop pulmonary fibrosis. Those risk factors can include:
- Age: Pulmonary fibrosis is more common in middle age and older adults
- Autoimmune diseases: Certain autoimmune diseases can cause pulmonary fibrosis, including rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma or Sjogren’s syndrome
- Certain occupations: If you work in construction, farming or mining, or are exposed to the toxins or dusts listed above with any regularity, your risk is higher
- Genetics: Pulmonary fibrosis can be inherited
- GERD: Breathing in stomach acid that has backed up into your throat can cause damage to the lungs
- History of certain cancer treatments: Radiation treatments that occur in the chest area, as well as certain chemo drugs, can increase your risk
- Sex: Men are more likely than women to develop pulmonary fibrosis
- Smoking: Smoking increases your risk of developing this disease
How Inogen Can Help With Your Pulmonary Fibrosis Treatment
Oxygen therapy is a common treatment for pulmonary fibrosis to help improve oxygen levels and ease feelings of breathlessness, allowing you to go about your daily activities without feeling short of breath or overly fatigued. If your doctor determines that oxygen therapy would benefit you and help you manage your pulmonary fibrosis symptoms, ask if a portable oxygen concentrator meets your oxygen needs. While carrying a heavy, awkward compressed oxygen tank around with you may sound daunting, portable oxygen concentrators are incredibly easy to travel with, so you can get the oxygen you need in your home or out and about, without any change in your equipment.
Portable oxygen concentrators are small and lightweight, allowing you to take your oxygen treatments with you anytime, anywhere. Inogen offers the most compact portable oxygen concentrator models available, so you can enjoy endless oxygen as long as you have a charged battery or access to an AC or DC power source. Discover how Inogen can help treat your pulmonary fibrosis by contacting us today. Breathe better and improve your quality of life with Inogen.