Pulmonary fibrosis is no ordinary disease and it gravely affects the lungs. Pulmonary means lungs and fibrosis refers to scar tissue. This disease is a serious lung disease which causes scarring in the lungs. Beyond scarring which itself presents a huge cause of concern, pulmonary fibrosis leads to several other problems which include breathing problems and the process of getting oxygen into the blood. Diseases which do not come with an immediate onset of certain symptoms are hard to detect. You may develop pulmonary fibrosis and not display any symptoms for a while. Here are a few other things you need to know about the disease.
- What is pulmonary fibrosis?
Pulmonary fibrosis leads to the thickening, scarring, and stiffening of the lacy walls of the air sacs in the lungs. The walls are generally thin and lacy and the disease clearly impacts its condition. The stiffening of the lungs leads to several repercussions. The efficiency of the lungs is impacted and its ability to get oxygen into the bloodstream is hampered. It becomes difficult to expand the lungs and breathing is tough. Extra energy is required to breathe. This leads to a shortness of breath as the demand for additional energy takes its toll on the body.
- What causes pulmonary fibrosis?
There are several known and unknown causes of the disease. Exposure to toxins like silica, coal dust, and asbestos can lead to pulmonary fibrosis. One of the most common causes of the disease is seen in conjunction with collagen vascular diseases. There are quite a few medications in the market that are known to have a side effect of pulmonary fibrosis. There are several unknown causes of the disease, termed idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. The disease can be hereditary as well.
- What are the symptoms of this disease?
While no disease is pleasant, pulmonary fibrosis does its sufferers no favors. You will suffer from several symptoms such as chronic dry cough which will eventually develop into a shortness of breath. You may not be able to exercise as frequently as you did as the body requires more energy to breathe properly. This can significantly hamper your way of life. You may be fatigued even while taking a simple walk. The disease may not cause any significant symptoms for a few years before being known. Each person suffers from a unique experience. Some people may stay stable for several years while others may suffer from rapidly degrading symptoms. Whichever may be the case, stay in constant touch with your medical team to ensure that you receive the best care to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
- Is this disease common?
Pulmonary fibrosis might seem similar to collagen vascular diseases. This makes its segregation and determination quite difficult. The disease is generally caused due to occupational hazards, medication side effects, and several other unknown diseases. The disease affects over 50,000 people per year. It is more common in men than women and mostly affects people aged 50 years or above. Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is quite common as well and there are around 132,000 cases in the country alone.
- Are clinical trials an option for treatment?
While there is no treatment for the disease, do not lose hope. Stay in touch with your medical team to stay up to date with the latest available medication and to stay on course for a healthy lifestyle. The disease impacts your ability to breathe and this progressively gets worse, but you can do your bit to ensure that this takes place as far off in the future as possible. Clinical trials are definitely an option. There are several new treatment methods being researched and you can stay up to date with them and make a decision. You can also read clinical trial reviews to have a better working idea of the procedure and how it might impact you. You can also visit a nearby major academic center for a better understanding or if you have any questions pertaining to a particular trial.
To put it into perspective, there is no medication that can reverse the impact of scarring on the lung tissue. It is an irreversible process. There is no cure for pulmonary fibrosis. The treatment methods currently available aim at relieving the symptoms of the disease and helping you stay fit, healthy, and active. All symptoms must be relayed to your doctor. A progression in breathing difficulties needs immediate attention to avoid the possibility of it becoming worse. The sooner these are evaluated, the better it is for you and your health. Make sure you consult a doctor for timely treatment.