Pulmonary fibrosis is a condition that is still in the process of being fully understood by the medical community, but it basically describes damage to lung tissue. The term pulmonary refers to the lungs, while fibrosis describes the formation of tissue damage.
The symptoms of this nonreversible condition can severely disrupt your life and make it difficult to do your job, spend time with friends and family or take part in your favorite activities. Whether you’ve been recently diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis or you are researching potential causes of your symptoms, educating yourself as a patient can help you in your treatment journey.
Normal Lung Functioning and Pulmonary Fibrosis
Everyone is aware of the vital role the lungs play in keeping us alive, yet so many of us take lung health for granted until a problem starts to occur. By bringing air into our bodies, the lungs are responsible for transferring oxygen into the bloodstream so it can be delivered to the rest of our cells.
To accomplish this, our lungs have millions of tiny air sacs that take in air and actually exchange the oxygen with waste products in our blood. Pulmonary fibrosis disrupts this process because of the growth of scar tissue in and around the air sacs. This excess tissue means that the sacs aren’t able to completely fill up with air, causing shortness of breath, coughing and other problems due to the disruption of oxygen delivery to the rest of the body.
How and Why Does the Scar Tissue Develop?
Often, the reason why this tissue damage occurs is unknown. The term for this condition when the cause isn’t fully understood is called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. It is believed there may be a genetic component with risk factors like smoking and air pollution also acting as potential contributors.
In other cases, pulmonary fibrosis can occur as a direct result of exposure to airborne toxins, the presence of a virus, inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and even inflammation related to severe acid reflux. To determine the underlying cause of scarring and related symptoms, doctors typically perform a full physical examination and order a series of diagnostic tests.
Treatment Options for Pulmonary Fibrosis Sufferers
Upon diagnosis, doctors will generally recommend treatment options such as the following:
- Prescription medication that may help slow the progress of the condition
- Lifestyle changes like quitting smoking or getting more exercise
- Supplemental oxygen therapy
- Pulmonary rehabilitation
Patients are also increasingly turning to regenerative therapies, including the treatment options we provide at Lung Health Institute. With our cellular therapy, we can use cells from a sample of your own blood to help restore lung functioning and relieve symptoms. Our goal is to return you to the quality of life you deserve if pulmonary fibrosis is affecting you.
Take the next step to find relief. Contact one of our patient coordinators today for more information or to schedule a free consultation.