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Pulmonary Fibrosis

Pulmonary fibrosis is a condition where the lungs are scarred and stiff. In some cases this happens in association with another medical condition, such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, or as a result of treatment with radiotherapy or drugs. In most cases, particularly when the fibrosis begins in later life, there will be no cause to be found for the scarring.

Patients with pulmonary fibrosis usually experience breathlessness and some have a dry cough. The doctor will investigate these symptoms by listening to the chest and arranging tests which are likely to include blood tests, lung function tests (breathing tests) and scans (chest X-Rays or CT scans of the lungs). In a very small proportion of patients a biopsy may be needed, where a small sample of the lung is taken and looked at down the microscope to find out what is causing the scarring of the lungs.

The amount of breathlessness a patient experiences is not always in proportion to the amount of scarring in the lungs, and some people with bad scarring are able to lead full and active lives. For some patients with pulmonary fibrosis, particularly those who are very breathless, some treatment may be needed. This is usually steroid tablets. These work by reducing inflammation and therefore scarring in the lungs. They can be very effective but they do not work for everyone. They also have side effects, particularly if the steroids are taken for along time. These include thinning of the skin, easy bruising, irritation of the stomach, weakening of the bones (osteoporosis), increased appetite, diabetes and weight gain. Your doctor will discuss these with you in more detail if they think steroids could help your condition. In certain situations other treatments may be appropriate. 

For some people, their pulmonary fibrosis will not get any worse and they will live without their symptoms causing them too many problems. For other people the condition can get worse over time and some people will eventually need oxygen therapy at home when their lungs are very badly scarred.

 

pulmonery fibrosis

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Pulmonary Fibrosis