Pulmonary fibrosis (PF) is a disease where the lungs become progressively scarred making it harder for them to function normally, meaning breathing becomes increasingly difficult. It is a taxing disease for both patients and their family members, and professional help can be necessary.

What is palliative care?

It is a specialized care approach aiming to improve quality of life for both seriously ill patients and their families. Palliative care in pulmonary fibrosis is focused on relieving the common symptoms of the disease, including shortness of breath, dry and/or chronic cough, fatigue, unexplained weight loss, and aching muscles/joints. It is usually provided by a team of specialists that includes doctors, nurses and social workers.

Living with PF can be a major challenge, but this specialized approach can make a difference. Some palliative treatments for PF include medications that relieve symptoms like shortness of breath, or that improve breathing and sleeping, like oxygen therapy.

There are also medications targeting stress, depression and pain. Palliative care in pulmonary fibrosis can also help patients and their families better understand what exactly is happening to the lungs. Caretakers are also trained to help patients understand complex medical information, so that they are better equipped to make their own treatment choices according to their needs.

A specialized team also assist patients and their families in navigating within the medical system, and helps answer questions that patients and families may have.

What palliative care is not

It is not hospice. It does not mean that your doctor has given up on you. You can receive palliative care alongside life-prolonging therapy. For instance, if you have had a lung transplant, you can receive palliative care while recovering after the transplant, so that you can have an improved quality of life even while you are being treated in the hospital.

Studies have shown that patients who are enrolled in palliative care programs live longer and enjoy a better quality of life. They also feel they have greater control over their symptoms and their disease.

Entering palliative care

The best way to learn about palliative care begins with your doctor and asking questions about it. Patients may receive palliative care in the hospital, at outpatient clinics, or at home.

GetPalliativeCare.org has a specific quiz to help you find out if it is right for you. If you decide you are interested in this care, you can also check the group’s Palliative Care Provider Directory, to locate palliative care services near you.

Note: 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.