Pulmonary fibrosis is a disease that affects the lungs. This is a disease in which the lung tissues become damaged and scarred due to some conditions. The damaged and scarred lung tissues impairs breathing, and other pulmonary functions. The scar forms, as a result of the accumulation of fibrous connective tissue. This fibrous tissue deposition can lead to the thickening of the walls of the lungs, which would subsequently lead to a reduction in the supply of oxygen in the blood. As a result of this, patients might experience shortness of breath. Some of the signs and symptoms of pulmonary fibrosis include shortness of breath, chronic dry cough, chest discomfort, loss of weight, loss of appetite, and so on. The exact cause of the disease isn’t known yet, however, factors such as infections, such as bacterial and viral, autoimmune disorders are the most common cause of the disease. Pulmonary fibrosis can be diagnosed by imaging tests. Although the diagnosis has to be confirmed with a biopsy. Pulmonary fibrosis leads to the scarring of the lung tissues, and this scarring is usually permanent. However, the progression of the disease can be reduced. There is no treatment for this disease yet, however, a lot of trials are going on. The signs and symptoms are usually improved by the use of some medications and other forms of therapy. This disease should be managed by a physician. They help the patient live a near comfortable life. Scientists are currently working on ways to induce stem cells, so they can replace the scarred tissues of the lungs.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Pulmonary Fibrosis?
Some of the signs and symptoms of pulmonary fibrosis include the following;
- Patients might present with shortness of breath.
- Dry cough is also a common symptom in people affected with pulmonary fibrosis.
- Rapid loss of weight.
- Discomfort in the muscles and joints.
- Widening of the extremities, such as the tips of the fingers and the toes.
Patients affected by pulmonary fibrosis would likely have a history of a progressive shortness of breath with exertion. Patients might also present with fine inspiratory crackles, which can be heard at the base on auscultation, at the base of the lungs. The signs and symptoms presented by patients also do vary. The signs and symptoms can vary from mild, moderate to severe. People with the severe type of pulmonary fibrosis do become ill rapidly, as compared to people with moderate severity. The moderately severe pulmonary fibrosis develops slowly and progressively. This might take months and even years to develop. Other symptoms of the disease include severe dyspnea, which may persist for days to weeks. Physicians usually prescribe antibiotics and corticosteroids for the treatment of the acute exacerbation of pulmonary fibrosis.
What Are Risk Factors Of Pulmonary Fibrosis?
There are some factors that increase the risk of developing pulmonary fibrosis. Some of the factors include the following;
- Age: Although pulmonary fibrosis affects any age group. Statistics have shown that it’s more prevalent in people that are middle-aged, and older adults.
- Gender: Pulmonary fibrosis is more prevalent in men than in women.
- Genetics: Some variants of pulmonary fibrosis can be passed down from parents to their children. Genetics is largely responsible for this.
- Occupational hazard: There are some jobs that increase the risk of developing pulmonary fibrosis. Examples of these kinds of jobs include mining, construction and so on.
- Smoking: Smoking has no benefit for human It significantly increases the risk of developing pulmonary fibrosis.
What Are The Causes Of Pulmonary Fibrosis?
Pulmonary fibrosis is a condition in which the lung tissues are replaced with scars. This makes it impossible, or difficult for oxygen to move from the lung to the bloodstream and vice versa. This could be as a result of many factors. Some of the factors might include chemical toxins, diseases, radiation therapy, and even some drugs.
- Environmental conditions: There are some environmental conditions that can predispose a patient to develop pulmonary fibrosis. Some of these conditions include prolonged exposure to silica dust. This is common, in people that work in quarries. In addition, constant exposure to asbestos fibres can also lead to the formation of scars in the lung tissues. In addition, coal, metal and grain dust also contributes largely to the development of pulmonary fibrosis. Lastly, animal wastes and droppings also contribute to the formation of scar tissues in the lungs.
- Radiation therapy: It has been observed that some people that underwent radiation therapy for various diseases such as pulmonary carcinoma or breast cancer sometimes do present with signs and symptoms of lung damage. This usually occurs some months and even years after they have undergone the treatment. However, they do present with different severity of symptoms. The extent of the lung damage depends on some factors. Some of the factors include
- The duration at which the lung was exposed to the radiation.
- The amount of radiation that was given to the patient.
- The presence of another disease.
- Also, it’s important to know if chemotherapy was also used alongside radiotherapy.
- Other diseases: There are other diseases that could lead to the development of pulmonary fibrosis. Some of them include dermatomyositis, polymyositis. Other medical conditions that have been associated with this disease include pneumonia, scleroderma, and rheumatoid arthritis.
What Are The Complications Of Pulmonary Fibrosis?
Below are some of the complications of pulmonary fibrosis;
- Pulmonary hypertension: This occurs as a result of the compression of the pulmonary vessels, especially the capillaries and arteries by scar tissues. This increases the resistance to the flow of blood in the lungs.
- Cor pulmonale: This is a condition in which the right ventricle has to work harder, to pump blood through the pulmonary arteries that have been blocked by scar tissues.
- Lung cancer: Pulmonary fibrosis that persists for a long time can lead to the development of cancer.
- Other complications: Pulmonary fibrosis can also lead to other complications such as pulmonary emboli, infections and collapsed lungs.
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