Pulmonary fibrosis causes scar tissue to form in the lungs’ air sacs, making it more difficult for the lungs to deliver oxygen to the bloodstream. A type of interstitial lung disease, it can have several different causes, from environmental pollutants and medications to medical treatments and conditions. Sometimes, though, there is no known cause. In those cases, it’s known as “idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.”
Whatever the contributing risk factor, the symptoms of pulmonary fibrosis may at first be mild. But over time, the development of scar tissue and inflammation stiffens the air sacs, causing shortness of breath and a dry, hacking cough.
There is no cure for pulmonary fibrosis, and it’s progressive. It can range from mild to severe, and the symptoms will become worse over time. Treatment only targets symptoms, and may involve medications, oxygen therapy, pulmonary rehabilitation and cellular therapy.
Medication for pulmonary fibrosis
First, antifibrotic medications can help slow the progression of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis in particular. However, these may carry their own side effects. Inflammation may be calmed by steroids. And since the condition can trigger gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), antacids can help manage those symptoms. Over-the-counter or prescription medication can also help relieve coughing and thin mucus.
Certain patients with more advanced pulmonary fibrosis may benefit from oxygen therapy, since the stiffening of the air sacs means the lungs can’t efficiently deliver oxygen throughout the body. Low blood oxygen levels can cause hypoxia, which can damage other organs. Some patients may only need occasional oxygen; others will need it 24/7 or while sleeping. This type of treatment can also help patients move around with more ease and improve energy levels.
Pulmonary rehabilitation is especially helpful for those with pulmonary fibrosis, and will help patients incorporate appropriate physical activity, breathing techniques and exercises that can help improve lung function and nutritional changes. Rehabilitation can also provide emotional support, which can be beneficial for patients who have noticed a decline in quality of life as a result of the disease.
Cellular therapy may also be a treatment option to help those with pulmonary fibrosis breathe easier and better manage the symptoms and progression of the disease. At the Lung Health Institute, we offer regenerative cellular treatment to patients in a supportive setting.
To find out if cellular therapy could be an option for you, contact our patient coordinator at 888-745-6697 today.