The official blog of the Lung Institute.
Chronic lung disease is a broad term, encompassing a variety of conditions. Each condition comes with its own unique set of symptoms. For those battling pulmonary fibrosis, being familiar with the disease’s specific symptoms can help them and their doctors develop a patient specific treatment plan.
With your health in mind, let’s take a look at pulmonary fibrosis symptoms and how to manage them.
What is Pulmonary Fibrosis?
In simplest terms, the word “pulmonary” means “lung” and “fibrosis” means scar tissue. Pulmonary fibrosis is a chronic lung disease that scars the lungs, causing intricate pulmonary passageways to thicken and harden and obstructing the free passage of oxygen through the walls on the lungs’ tiny air sacs (alveoli) into the bloodstream. Pulmonary fibrosis falls under the umbrella condition called interstitial lung disease. Unfortunately, the scaring is irreversible.
Pulmonary fibrosis can be caused by several factors including poor environmental air quality, occupational exposure to foreign particles, medical radiation therapy, infections and autoimmune disorders. It is possible to be genetically predisposed to pulmonary fibrosis, known as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
Pulmonary Fibrosis Symptoms
Each pulmonary fibrosis patient’s set of symptoms is unique, but there is a set of common symptoms which can be expected. In terms of severity, symptoms can progress very quickly, or they can remain mild for several years until accelerating in the later stages of the disease.
Shortness of Breath – For many, this is the most common complaint amongst those with pulmonary fibrosis. When less oxygen can enter the blood, the feeling of shortness of breath can remain constant for longs periods of time. Check out these positions to reduce shortness of breath.
Coughing – A dry, hacking cough has been known to be a regular occurrence for those dealing with pulmonary fibrosis symptoms.
Fatigue – A lack of oxygen can lead to a constant feeling of being tired. This can lead to sitting inside all day sounding like a much better option. You can try the Huff-Cough Technique to cough more effectively to not become fatigued.
Weakness – In fear of causing symptom flare-ups, a sedentary lifestyle can seem like a much better alternative. Without exercise, the muscles will become weaker, which then can discourage people from attempting to move around or stay active. Joints can also ache.
Weight Loss – Constant fatigue can lead to a loss of appetite. Which, in turn, can lead to more fatigue. Over time, this can lead to weight loss due to lack of eating. Talk to your doctor if you are experiencing a loss of appetite, so he or she can recommend a treatment plan to regain your appetite.
Pulmonary Fibrosis Symptom Treatments
Due to the personalized nature of pulmonary fibrosis symptoms, blanket treatment plans may not be useful. It’s important to work with your primary care doctor or pulmonologist to come up with a treatment strategy which addresses pulmonary fibrosis symptoms.
Generally, some of the most common treatment options include lifestyle modifications, diet and exercise, medications and pulmonary rehab. Over the last few years, an emerging treatment option has arrived and given pulmonary fibrosis patients a new option. Cellular therapy uses cells from the patient’s own body. Cellular therapy may slow disease progression and may improve quality of life.
If you or a loved one is battling pulmonary fibrosis, emphysema, COPD or interstitial lung disease, then it may be time to explore cellular therapy and the Lung Institute. For more information on cellular therapy, please contact us or call (800) 729-3065.