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Scarring of the Lungs and Pulmonary Fibrosis

Scarring of the Lungs and Pulmonary Fibrosis

If you live with pulmonary fibrosis, you’ve likely heard a lot about the scarring of the lungs. People with pulmonary fibrosis develop scar tissue in their lungs, which makes it difficult to breathe normally and fully. Let us explain what it means to have scarring of the lungs and pulmonary fibrosis.

What is Pulmonary Fibrosis?

Pulmonary fibrosis is a condition that causes your lung tissue to become thickened and scarred. This makes it more difficult for air to pass between the walls of the lungs and into the body. The name itself is quite accurate, as pulmonary refers to your lungs and fibrosis means “scarring.”

Once the scarring of the lungs occurs, unfortunately there is no way to reverse the process. Pulmonary fibrosis can lead to other medical problems, such as a collapsed lung, lung infections, blood clots in the lungs and lung cancer. In time, pulmonary fibrosis can lead to respiratory failure, pulmonary hypertension and heart failure. Because of this, managing the disease is imperative. Disease management is not only preventative, but also helps the person with pulmonary fibrosis enjoy a higher quality of life.

You might also hear the term idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, which refers to pulmonary fibrosis with no known cause. In fact, in most pulmonary fibrosis cases, the exact cause is unknown, although we can speculate different reasons as to why a person might develop the disease.

What are Symptoms of Pulmonary Fibrosis?

Pulmonary fibrosis can develop either very quickly or very slowly – it various from person to person. In most cases, a person’s breathing will become increasingly difficult over time. Below are the primary symptoms of pulmonary fibrosis:

  • Shortness of breath, especially after exertion
  • Dry, hacking cough
  • Fast, shallow breathing
  • Gradual, unintended weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Aching joints and muscles
  • Widening and rounding of the fingers and toes, also referred to as “clubbing”

What Causes Pulmonary Fibrosis?

Scarring of the Lungs and Pulmonary Fibrosis

Most cases of pulmonary fibrosis unknown, meaning there is no known cause for the disease. However, there are factors that may increase the risk of pulmonary fibrosis, which include the following:

  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Viral infections
  • Exposure to environmental irritants, such as gases, fumes, pollutants and workplace hazards
  • Certain medications
  • Genetics
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a condition in which acid from your stomach backs up into your throat

How is Pulmonary Fibrosis Diagnosed?

Pulmonary fibrosis is an interstitial lung disease, which refers to any condition that causes progressive scarring of the lungs and its tissues. If your doctor suspects that you may have pulmonary fibrosis, he or she will likely refer you to a lung specialist. Here are some tests that are used to detect pulmonary fibrosis:

  • Chest X-ray
  • Breathing tests to understand the extent of the damage
  • Blood tests to check for oxygen levels in the bloodstream, autoimmune disease and possible infections
  • High resolution CT scan of chest, referred to as HRCT
  • Lung biopsy
  • Exercise test

What are my Treatment Options for Pulmonary Fibrosis?

stem cell therapy

There is currently no known cure for pulmonary fibrosis. However, there are steps that can be taken to manage the symptoms and improve a patient’s quality of life. The goals of treatment are to hopefully slow the progression of the disease, reduce symptom flare-ups and help the person with pulmonary fibrosis to live an active and healthy life. Below are the main treatment options for pulmonary fibrosis:

  • Medications – Many people with pulmonary fibrosis are prescribed a corticosteroid, such as prednisone, to reduce inflammation in the lungs. However, corticosteroids can have some negative side effects, particularly when taken over a long period of time. Because of this, the use of corticosteroids needs to be monitored very closely. Other potential medications that reduce inflammation include azathioprine and cyclophosphamide, both of which suppress the immune system. FDA-approved drugs for pulmonary fibrosis are nintedanib (Ofev®) and pirfenidone (Esbriet®, Pirfenex®, Pirespa®).
  • Supplemental Oxygen – Supplemental oxygen helps ensure that your body is receiving enough oxygen. Some people use supplemental oxygen 24 hours a day, while others use it only as needed.
  • Pulmonary Rehabilitation – Pulmonary rehabilitation is a program that teaches you about your disease, how to exercise and manage symptoms and often includes support and counseling. Pulmonary rehabilitation can be a great way to deal with the mental impact that the disease has on a person as well.
  • Lung Reduction or Transplant – In more severe cases, a lung reduction or transplant might be an option. However, not everyone is eligible because the surgery is hard on the body. A person needs to be in good physical condition, have no other life-threatening illnesses and be willing to undergo subsequent medical treatment to be considered for a lung transplant. Another thing to keep in mind is the prognosis for a lung transplant. The five-year survival rate is roughly 50 percent.
  • Stem Cell Therapy – Many people with pulmonary fibrosis have chosen stem cell therapy as a treatment option. Stem cell therapy is a minimally invasive procedure that harvests stem cells from a patient’s own body. In many cases, stem cell therapy has shown to reduce inflammation, reduce shortness of breath and improve their overall quality of life.

If you or a loved one suffers from pulmonary fibrosis or idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and would like to learn more about stem cell therapy as a treatment option, please contact us today. Our patient coordinators will be happy to guide you through the process and answer any questions that you might have.

8 Comments

  1. Lung Institute

    2 months ago

    Kerrie:

    Thank you so much for contacting us. I would suggest waiting to see your doctor about your specific medical condition. If you are interested in hearing more about our stem cell treatment for lung diseases, you may reach out to our patient coordinators at (855)313-1149 for more information.

    Sincerely,

    The Lung Institute

  2. Kerrie

    2 months ago

    My hrct results say ‘large dense old fibrosis posteriorly in the right lower lobe of the lung likely representing an old idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. There is a similar smaller patch in the left lower lobe’ it then goes on to talk about both calcified and uncalcified nodules with irregular outlines. I am seeing my doctor next week, but my question is about the ‘old’ ipf. what is the significance between old vs new? does this essentially shorten the avaerage, and i know it is average, 3 – 5 yr survival rate? i am asthmatic and have been quite unwell for the past 18 months, but developed this unrelenting chest pain about 6 weeks ago. I am a 46 yr old female.

  3. Lung Institute

    2 months ago

    Jessy:

    Thank you for your comment and we are sorry to hear about your condition. We would suggest you talk with your primary physician or your specialist to see if they would offer any diet recommendations. We did write a blog article about lung scarring just three months ago.

    The Lung Institute aims to deliver the highest quality of care for our patients as well as continually improve our treatments for our patients. We’re happy to answer your questions about stem cell therapy, so feel free to contact us at (855) 313-1149 to speak one-on-one with a patient coordinator. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Sincerely,

    The Lung Institute

  4. Jessy

    2 months ago

    Hi,
    I was diagnosed with a lung scar and the doctor said that it was still fresh. I cannot determine where i get this since last may, i just had an xray and says my lungs are clear. I just took another xray this august for medical abroad. Are there any natural remedy for lung scar? What foods i am going to eat?

    Thank you and god bless.

  5. Lung Institute

    3 months ago

    Lusito:

    Thank you for your message and we wish you well. Unfortunately, at this time, most doctors aren’t going to recommend anything that is not considered traditional medicine, especially when the treatment is not yet covered by insurance. Generally, doctors practice traditional medicine and are very statistical. Even though there are many advancements in the field of regenerative medicine, many doctors are still skeptical.

    We’re happy to answer your questions about stem cell treatment for chronic lung diseases, so feel free to contact us at (855) 313-1149 to speak with our knowledgeable medical team. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Sincerely,

    The Lung Institute

  6. Lung Institute

    3 months ago

    Robert:

    Thank you for your question. Because COPD and emphysema affect everyone differently and at different rates of progression, it’s challenging to say or know what life expectancy anyone has with it, so it’s important that you see your doctor regularly, especially if you notice any changes to your symptoms.

    We’re happy to answer your questions about stem cell treatment for chronic lung diseases, so feel free to contact us at (855) 313-1149 to speak with our knowledgeable medical team. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Sincerely,

    The Lung Institute

  7. Robert Etu

    3 months ago

    What is the life expectency
    after being diagnosed.

  8. Luisito Gloria

    5 months ago

    I was diagnosed with PIG over 5 years ago and was prescribed SPIRIVAHANDIHALER once a day. In addition I exercise regularly 5 days a week and about 1 he a day. My annual test results have not changed but my pig is not getting worse accusing to my lung doctor. I will ask my doctor if stem cell therapy is an option for me.

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* All treatments performed at Lung Institute utilize autologous stem cells, meaning those derived from a patient's own body. No fetal or embryonic stem cells are utilized in Lung Institute's procedures. Lung Institute aims to improve patients' quality of life and help them breathe easier through the use of autologous stem cell therapy. To learn more about how stem cells work for lung disease, click here.

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