Pulmonary Fibrosis (PF) is a disease which occurs when lung tissue is damaged or scarred. This causes the tissue in the lungs to become thick or stiff. It is, therefore, more difficult for the oxygen inhaled into your lungs to be absorbed into the blood. This can result in shortness of breath, sometimes severely.
Other symptoms include a cough, tiredness, weight loss, aching muscles and joints, and widening of the tips of fingers and toes. Click here for more information on symptoms.
The severity of symptoms can differ from person to person, as can their onset. Some people may become ill from PF very suddenly, while others may notice symptoms that become steadily worse over months or years. Sometimes, if severe shortness of breath occurs, the patient may be placed on a mechanical ventilator which will breathe for them. PF tends to progress. On average, a patient with the disease will lose between 150 and 200 ml of lung capacity each year.
Understandably, PF can be hard to live with. However, there are a number of ways to manage it to ease symptoms and improve quality of life.
Pulmonary Fibrosis Management
The first steps to pulmonary fibrosis management are the most simple: Take your medications as prescribed by your doctor or physician. If you experience worse-than-normal or new symptoms, contact your doctor right away.
One of the main methods of pulmonary fibrosis management is oxygen therapy. Doctors may prescribe oxygen to patients with PF whose oxygen levels fall beyond a certain amount – about 88% according to pulmonaryfibrosis.org. Oxygen therapy involves breathing oxygen through a mask or nasal breathing tube (cannula) in order to improve blood-oxygen levels. Depending on the patient, oxygen therapy can be administered in a number of ways. Oxygen therapy may be administered in the hospital or it can also be given at home with a machine. It can even be taken on the go through a transportable canister. Transportable oxygen therapy can be used in sports, jogging, and other activities. It should not be viewed as any different than, for example, using a crutch to walk or eyeglasses to see. Click here for more information on oxygen therapy and other treatments.
Otherwise, there are various lifestyle changes that can help you keep pulmonary fibrosis out of the way as much as possible. These include:
- Staying strong. Practice exercises that help you breathe easier and improve your strength. This is known as pulmonary rehabilitation. Your doctor or physician can talk to you about strategies that can reduce breathlessness.
- Making sure you have an annual flu shot. This will reduce your chances of getting ill with an infection that could make your lungs worse. You should also talk to your doctor about a pneumonia vaccine.
- Stop smoking and stay away from people who smoke.
- Eat small yet frequent well-balanced meals, as opposed to large meals infrequently.
Featured image: Depositphotos / Nejron
Posted on May 5, 2023