Monday, May 7, 2012

Pulmonary Fibrosis Life Expectancy | Treatment

Pulmonary fibrosis is a term used to describe scarring in the lungs. It can occur when there is scarred/damaged lung tissue. This condition causes the lung work in difficulty ways so thus it cannot function properly. As the disease worsens, patients will be progressively more short of breath. How about with the treatment and life expectancy for those who suffer from this disease, and what else you need to know about this scaring in the lungs? Keep reading!

You might also like to read about types and symptoms of tuberculosis, before continuing!

Causes and Symptoms

There are some possible causes that can lead to pulmonary fibrosis which may include:
  1. Other health conditions, particularly such as; scleroderma, rheumatoid arthritis, pneumonia, sarcoidosis, chronic lupus, and tuberculosis.
  2. Radiation therapy! After months/years of initial radiation treatment, some patients who take radiation therapy for certain health conditions (like for treating breast cancer or lung disease) may experience signs/symptoms of lung damage.
  3. Certain medications! There are also some types of drugs that can contribute to the damaged lungs, particularly such as; some antibiotics (like Azuldidine & Nitrofurantoin), some heart medications (like propranolol and amiodarone), and some drugs for chemotherapy which usually purposed to kill cancer cells but may also contribute in damaging the lungs.
  4. Bad environmental conditions! Long term exposure to pollutants/toxins (such as; grain dust, animal/bird droppings, asbestos fibers, and silica dust) can contribute in damaging your lungs!
  5. Additionally, there is also a condition what we call as ‘idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis! It is a term used to call pulmonary fibrosis without unknown cause.
And for the progress of the symptoms, it can be so closely related to the cause of pulmonary fibrosis itself. Some common symptoms may include diminished exercise tolerance, cough (dry cough), weight loss without unknown reason, and difficulties to breathe (shortness of breath).

Treatment and life expectancy

Unfortunately, there is still no current treatment to reverse pulmonary fibrosis (especially for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis). But some treatments can help slow the progress of the disease, improve temporarily the symptoms, and improve/encourage the quality of life.

The treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is so limited! Scarring in lungs for this type is usually permanent, and there is still no current medication that works effectively to treat this condition. In advanced cases, patients with this condition are usually treated with lung transplantation.

Some cases of non-idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis symptoms can improve with ‘corticosteroids with/without other medications’ that suppress the immune system of the body. But there are a few patients that respond the alone option of using corticosteroids. In other words, most patients usually also need other immune-suppressive agents (combined with corticosteroids). And when these options fail, the patients may be considered to get lung transplantation.

Corticosteroids or other immune-suppressive agents are intended to reduce the inflammation & subsequent scarring. Furthermore, the body’s immune system is believed has a significant contribution to affect the development of many types/forms of pulmonary fibrosis.

Each patient with pulmonary fibrosis must be followed /accompanied by a lung specialist who has experienced with this health condition. This is so important to analyze each progress of side effect & toxicity of the treatment. For this case, a lung specialist is intended to give the right analysis about the kind of treatment that should be given, the long duration (safely duration) of the treatment, and the analysis of the respond or progress of each treatment.

Furthermore, the chance of developing pulmonary hypertension and pulmonary emboli in people with pulmonary fibrosis is also high. The pulmonary hypertension of this case is usually caused by the decreased O2 levels in the blood. To anticipate this condition, patients are also often considered to get supplemental O2 (oxygen), and sometimes also considered to get blood thinning (anticoagulation) therapy to treat pulmonary emboli (blood clots that go away to the lungs).

Note; once again pulmonary fibrosis is serious disease! If you in doubt to your condition, talk with a doctor or a lung specialist for more in-depth information about pulmonary fibrosis diagnosis, treatments, life expectancy, and other advices!
Reference: MayoClinic and WebMD
Image credit to ‘shutterstock’ for illustration