Patient Education

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Pulmonary Fibrosis

Overview

Pulmonary fibrosis is a condition in which scarring happens in the lungs. It makes the lungs less elastic and causes breathing problems. Pulmonary fibrosis usually gets worse over time. You can't undo the damage to your lungs. But you can take steps to prevent more damage and feel better.

In most cases, doctors don't know what causes pulmonary fibrosis. Possible causes include lung infection and injury to the lungs from smoking or being around smoke, dirty air, chemicals, and dust.

A diagnosis may be made based on several tests. These include a medical history, physical exam, blood tests, lung function tests, chest X-ray, and CT scan. In some cases, a lung biopsy may be done.

Symptoms

Pulmonary fibrosis makes it hard to breathe. Symptoms may include shortness of breath and a dry cough. Symptoms usually get worse over time.

Treatment

Treatment for pulmonary fibrosis aims to make breathing easier and slow the progress of the disease. Treatment includes medicines and oxygen to ease shortness of breath. Your doctor may use pulmonary function tests (PFTs) to check how well treatment is working and provide the best care.

Self-care

Self-care aims to make breathing as easy as possible. You can help prevent lung infections by avoiding smoke, dirty air, and sick children and adults. Keeping up with vaccinations like pneumonia, pertussis, COVID-19, and the flu vaccine can also help prevent new lung infections and help you stay healthy.

Credits

Current as of: March 14, 2022

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine

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