Preventing Breathlessness in PF Patients

Pulmonary fibrosis (PF) is a chronic progressive disease that causes shortness of breath (breathlessness) and coughing. As the disease progresses, fatigue escalates and patients find it gets harder to breathe due to the increasing thickness of the lungs’ walls.

Patients normally feel very anxious when they experience shortness of breath. But these distressing events can be prevented with oxygen therapy and pulmonary rehabilitation. In more advanced cases of PF, physicians may prescribe morphine to decrease breathlessness.

Oxygen therapy

Oxygen therapy is a treatment that provides PF patients with extra oxygen, generally through a portable oxygen tank. As in any other treatments, the right dosage needs to be determined by a physician and is specific to each patient.

To prevent episodes of breathlessness, a doctor normally calculates how much oxygen a patient needs while resting and while doing any type of physical activity (levels of oxygen in the blood should exceed 90 percent).

Pulmonary rehabilitation

The end goal of pulmonary rehabilitation is to improve the well-being of patients with breathing disorders. This rehabilitation program does not cure a condition, nor does it recover lung function. But it does help improve the lung function that patients still have left.

A multidisciplinary team of doctors and healthcare providers adjust training exercises, nutritional plans and breathing techniques to conserve energy specifically for each patient according to their needs. Patients visit a medical facility weekly to undergo these rehabilitation sessions while the remaining program is carried out at home. Each program has to be re-evaluated as the disease progresses and as the patient loses certain capacities.

Long-term effects of pulmonary rehabilitation in PF patients include improvement of patients’ quality of life, reduction of breathlessness, an increase in the ability to exercise or perform daily tasks, and better management of emotions.

Morphine treatment

Research shows that in more terminal cases of PF, the administration of morphine helps decrease breathlessness events with no severe side effects, though the reason for this remains unclear.

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. 

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