Pulmonary fibrosis is a chronic lung disease that thickens and hardens the lung passageways responsible for carrying oxygen into the bloodstream. It can cause shortness of breath even with minimal activity. Over time, it can lead to permanent inflammation or scarring of lung tissue.
This interstitial lung disease can affect anybody, but can be more common in men than women, and tends to occur in patients between the ages of 50 and 70. So what causes fibrosis of the lungs?
Those who work or live around environmental pollutants, like hard metal dusts, asbestos fibers, coal or grain dust, and animal proteins, may be at risk of developing pulmonary fibrosis.
In some, antibiotics, certain heart medication, chemotherapy drugs and anti-inflammatory medications can lead to scarring of the lungs.
In addition to chemotherapy drugs, radiation therapy for lung or breast cancer can result in lung scarring months or years after the initial treatment.
Other medical conditions
Medical conditions like mixed connective tissue disease, systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis and sarcoidosis can cause pulmonary fibrosis.
In the case of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), the cause of lung scarring is unknown. All doctors know is that something within or outside the patient’s lungs attack the lungs repeatedly over time, scarring the tissue inside and around air sacs and making it more difficult for oxygen to pass to the bloodstream.
While the specific cause of pulmonary fibrosis can’t usually be determined in IPF, risk factors include smoking and certain viral infections like Epstein-Barr, influenza A and hepatitis C.
Treating pulmonary fibrosis
The lung scarring from pulmonary fibrosis is irreversible, but certain measures can treat the symptoms and severity of the condition. The Lung Health Institute offers cellular therapy using cells from within a patient’s body, harvesting them and reintroducing them to the lungs. There, they may help promote the growth of healthy lung tissue, reducing scarring and inflammation and improving airflow. For more information on the Lung Health Institute’s treatment options, contact a patient coordinator at 888-745-6697.