Being diagnosed with a devastating disease such as pulmonary fibrosis is never easy. It is still a very misunderstood and misdiagnosed disease and there’s still a lot of mystery surrounding it. To better understand what you’re going through, there are some crucial questions you should consider asking your doctor. Here’s a list of five of those questions we’ve put together to help you demystify your lung condition (source: American Lung Association website):
1. What is pulmonary fibrosis?
Pulmonary fibrosis (PF) is a respiratory disease that causes the lung tissue to become thick and stiff. Over time, it turns into scar tissue, which is known as fibrosis. Due to the disease, the lungs lose their ability to properly function, making it hard for the organs to transport oxygen into the bloodstream, causing a number of symptoms.
2. Am I at risk for pulmonary fibrosis?
Although there is still no known cause for what may be the trigger factor for the development of pulmonary fibrosis, there are several risk factors that we should keep in mind while discussing PF causes. Age, genetics, environmental exposures, unhealthy habits (such as smoking), medication and autoimmune disorders, are just a few of the risk factors that can lead to the development of pulmonary fibrosis. Your physician will explain more about these factors and how you can prevent the symptoms from getting worse.
3. What are the symptoms of pulmonary fibrosis?
The symptoms of pulmonary fibrosis can be similar to the symptoms of other lung diseases and include shortness of breath, particularly during exercise; persistent, dry and hacking cough; fast and shallow breathing; gradual and unintended weight loss; fatigue and tiredness; aching joints and muscles; as well as clubbing, which consists of widening and rounding of the tips of the fingers or toes.
4. How can I have a good quality of life with pulmonary fibrosis?
Ask your doctor if you are eligible for pulmonary rehabilitation. Pulmonary rehabilitation is a program that focuses on education and exercise classes to teach you about your lungs and the disease in a way that can help you understand what is happening to your body. You will also learn some useful exercises and techniques that will help you control your breathing and keep an active life without constantly running out of air. Breathing exercises are also extremely useful and may help you.
5. Am I eligible for any clinical trials?
Clinical trials are well-designed studies used to collect information about new treatments for diseases and disorders – in this case, pulmonary fibrosis. Most of the time, this means medications, but clinical trials can also test other things, such as stem cell therapies, surgical techniques, tests for diagnosis, medical devices, as well as others. In particular, clinical trials focus on administering an experimental therapy in humans, as opposed to animals, which are first conducted in the lab (known as “pre-clinical research”).
Pulmonary Fibrosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.