What is Pulmonary Fibrosis
Pulmonary fibrosis refers to the formation of abnormal fibrous tissue in the lungs; this condition is also known as scarring of the lungs. This condition usually presents with short breath, chronic coughing that is dry, general weakness, rapid weight loss and chest discomfort. Crackles can be at times be detected at the lung base during respiration. X-rays on the chest may not always show any signs of abnormality but good quality CT will often show some abnormalities. One of the possibilities is that pulmonary fibrosis is only a symptoms of other underlying diseases which are classified as interstitial lung ailments.
Autoimmune illnesses, viral infections and other injuries to the lungs may also lead to pulmonary fibrosis, in some rare cases the fibroids can appear without any underlying cause. In such instances its termed as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis whose diagnosis is mostly associated with interstitial pneumonia is closely linked to a protein which is thought to be a link to the fibrosis.
Asbestos have been linked with being a culprit for several respiratory conditions including pulmonary fibrosis, also exposure to certain gases as well as environmental pollutants are some of the leading culprits of the condition. Inhaling fungal residues, dust contaminated with bacteria and animal products are also some of the issues that could lead to this condition. Smoking, rheumatoid arthritis and sarcoidosis are also some of the major factors in causing pulmonary fibrosis.
Pulmonary fibrosis leads to normal lung tissue to be replaced with scar tissue that lead to less oxygen being diffused in the lungs. At the same time fibrosis also leads to restrictive lung disease though some causes of restrictive lung disease are not associated with pulmonary fibrosis.
To diagnose this condition a lung biopsy is usually obtained where several tubes are inserted in the lungs through the chest wall, a piece of the lung is cut off in order to be sent for evaluation. The tissue is examined to ascertain the presence of fibrosis as well as other supporting evidence that may indicate a specific cause such as inhaled dust that contained certain mineral or therapy residues. One common problem with diagnosing this condition is that individual patients will present with individual type of fibrosis and evaluating the condition is quite complex.
Once lung scarring has occurred its permanent and slowing the progress of the condition and preventing underlying causes should be the goal of treatment. There are few options for treating lung fibrisos, suppressing the immune system by use of corticosteroids such as prednisone and other such medication may be one of the major avenues used to treat the condition. Lung transplantation is the only option that is left as a viable alternative in very severe cases.
The immune system is one of the factors that plays a major role in causing the condition. Suppressing the immune system with medical drugs helps in decreasing lung inflammation which would otherwise lead to scarring. Patients whose condition improves with suppression of the immune system therapy probably don’t have idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis since the condition has no known cure. In some cases managing the condition helps in improving the quality of life for the person, this can be done by oxygen supplementation that lead to a higher life expectancy by the patient.