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.
The development of pulmonary fibrosis is related to occupational and environmental exposure to pollutant substances, radiation therapy, specific medications, connective tissue disease, and interstitial lung diseases, among other causes. In the majority of cases, however, the cause is not understood — a form of the disease known as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).
Methods to Prevent Pulmonary Fibrosis
There are currently no established ways to prevent pulmonary fibrosis, particularly since in most cases the cause of the disease cannot be identified. The best way to prevent pulmonary fibrosis is, therefore, to avoid potential risks and to undergo regular medical examinations. In addition to being aware of risk factors that can increase the likelihood of developing pulmonary fibrosis, patients should also pay attention to specific symptoms.
These include shortness of breath, particularly during exercise; persistent dry and hacking cough; fast and shallow breathing; gradual and unintended weight loss; fatigue; aching joints and muscles; as well as clubbing, which means a widening and rounding of the tips of the fingers or toes.
The similarity between the symptoms of pulmonary fibrosis and other respiratory diseases can make diagnosis difficult. However, early diagnosis can help prevent further complications. Once the scar tissue is fully formed, it cannot be removed or reversed, which is why treatment aims to slow the progression of the disease and ease the symptoms.
Factors that Impact PF Prevention
One of the most common and avoidable risk factors for IPF is smoking, and everyone should quit smoking to avoid not only pulmonary fibrosis, but also many other respiratory diseases. In cases where people need to work in contact with toxins and pollutants like silica dust, asbestos fibers, grain dust, and bird and animal droppings, it is important to reduce exposure by using a mask, and make sure regulations regarding these materials are being followed.
Age and genetics are also risk factors, in which case patients and physicians should be especially attentive through regular diagnosis examination. Patients who have family members who are suffering from or have had pulmonary fibrosis can undergo genetic testes, which can help in disease prevention.
Where there are unavoidable factors, the only option is watchful waiting. These include viral infections, radiation therapy, the use of chemotherapy drugs like methotrexate (Trexall) and cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan), heart medication like including amiodarone (Cordarone, Nexterone, Pacerone), and propranolol (Inderol , Innopran), or antibiotics such as nitrofurantoin (Macrobid, Macrodantin, and others) and sulfasalazine (Azulfidine). Also, those suffering from diseases able to cause pulmonary fibrosis should be extra cautious. Those diseases include tuberculosis, pneumonia, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), rheumatoid arthritis, sarcoidosis, and scleroderma.
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.