There are approximately 200 types of Pulmonary Fibrosis (PF). The most common is Idiopathic PF (IPF). The actual cause is unknown hence the title idiopathic and fibrosis referring to the scarring that occurs to the lung tissues. Other causes would include exposure to environmental hazards (such as asbestos) and autoimmune diseases (such as rheumatoid arthritis). This scarring makes the lung tissue thickened and stiff which in turn makes it more difficult for the lungs to function properly. As this disease progresses, most people start to feel shortness of breath.
This is a chronic or long-term disease process that generally happens in four stages. Mild, moderate, acute, severe, and very severe. As the disease progresses the patient’s lung capacity decreases.
If you have IPF, you may have rapid, shallow breathing or a dry, hacking cough that doesn't go away. When a doctor listens to your breathing through a stethoscope, he/she may hear a crackling noise in your lungs. You may also get "clubbing" -- a widening and rounding of your fingertips and toes.
Should you show signs or symptoms of pulmonary fibrosis, your medical provider will conduct a thorough examination to determine your current medical history, family history, and possible exposure to certain environmental agents. In addition, tests may be ordered to help confirm a diagnosis of pulmonary fibrosis. This may include diagnostic testing such as:
There is no cure for IPF but, and no current treatment has been proved effective at stopping disease progression. However, there are specific treatments that may provide temporary improvement of symptoms, slow disease progression, and improve quality of life. In addition to medications, treatments often include:
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