Pulmonary Fibrosis

Date:  2021-03-22 18:20:36
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Pulmonary fibrosis is a respiratory disease that causes damages and scarring to the lungs. The ailment obstructs a persons ability to breathe (Dempsey & Miller, 2013). This is because the scar formation accumulates along the walls of the air sacs in the lungs. Consequently, this reduces the elasticity of the lungs. The formation and accumulation of the scar tissues is known as fibrosis. Ultimately, the condition makes it difficult for oxygen to get into the bloodstream thereby causing the victim to experience a shortage of breath. This essay describes the symptoms of pulmonary fibrosis, its causes, risk factors, tests and diagnosis, available treatments as well as its prognosis.

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Symptoms of Pulmonary Fibrosis

Pulmonary fibrosis has several symptoms. The primary symptom is the shortness of breath. This occurs during and after a person engages in strenuous physical activities. Victims of the disease also have a feeling of fatigue and general body weakness for long periods. They may also experience a loss of appetite and a significant loss of weight. In addition, patients may suffer from a dry cough that often causes discomfort and pain in the chest area.

Causes

The main cause of pulmonary fibrosis is unknown and hence the term idiopathic. The term suggests that in some cases, the disease may develop without any specified causes. Nevertheless, the disease may be categorized as a secondary effect of other common interstitial lung diseases. For instance, tuberculosis, an interstitial lung disease, causes fibrosis in the lungs. There are some environmental factors that could also trigger the occurrence of the disease. Such include metallic pollutants and various forms of dust. In addition, there is also a growing body of evidence that suggests that the disease may be genetic among some patients.

Risk Factors

The specific causes of pulmonary fibrosis are still under investigation. This is because there is no definite ground to which its development may be attached. Nevertheless, there are several risk factors that may be linked to its development. These include viral and bacterial infections in the lungs as well as prolonged exposure to air pollutants such as dust fumes and toxic metals in asbestos (Kolliputi, 2012). Smoking may also augment the risks of acquiring the disease or make it more severe if it already exists. In addition, the reflux of the stomach acids in the body may increase the risks of the development of scars in the lungs. Ultimately, the radiation to the chest as a means of therapy may also increase the chances of pulmonary fibrosis development.

Test and Diagnosis

Diagnosing pulmonary fibrosis is not easy since its cause is normally unknown. Some of its symptoms may also be similar to those of other diseases such as asthma. It is also capable of existing concurrently with other interstitial diseases. As such, the diagnosis of pulmonary fibrosis may mandate the undertaking of possible tests to ascertain its existence. The first tests are usually blood tests that aid in ruling out other diseases. Afterwards, a lung cell sample test may be carried out using a bronchoscope to scan the cells for any signs of swelling. X-rays and CT scans may also be conducted to identify any irregularities within the lungs (Lloyd & Patricia, 2013). In addition, pulmonary function assessments can be conducted to evaluate a patients breathing capacity.

Treatment

There is no definite cure that has been developed to cure pulmonary fibrosis. In addition, the alternatives for treating the disease are also few. This is because the scars within the lungs remain permanent once they have developed (Lloyd & Patricia, 2013). Lung transplantation is among the limited options available for treating the disease. In some cases, medications that are used to suppress the immune system of the body, such as corticosteroids, could be used to manage the disease. This is because they reduce the lungs inflammations and scarring, by mitigating the bodily processes that act as risk factors for pulmonary fibrosis. Supplementary oxygen may also be issued to sick persons to increase the oxygen levels in the bloodstream. This also prevents them from suffering from a heart failure. Other non-drug treatment options include nutritional advice, participation in exercises and breathing therapy.

Prognosis

Due to the limited oxygen supply into the bloodstream, the heart is deprived of this oxygen leading to hypoxia. This may lead to pulmonary hypertension, which ultimately causes heart failure in austere cases. The disease may also increase the victims risks to blockages in the pulmonary artery, usually referred to as pulmonary embolism. Patients suffering from this disease are known to have a median survival rate of two to three years (Ley, Collard & King, 2011). In addition, as the disease progresses to its severe stages, the failures in the respiratory system often leads to death.

Conclusion

In summary, pulmonary fibrosis is a lung disease that damages the bodys respiratory system. Some of its symptoms include shortness of breath, fatigue, general body weakness, loss of appetite and dry coughs. Although the disease has no definite causes, several risk factors may be attached to its development. These include bacterial and viral infections, toxic air pollutants as well as radiation therapy in the chest region. In addition, the capability of pulmonary fibrosis to co-exist with other diseases, such as asthma, requires multiple tests to be performed on a patient to confirm its existence. Such tests include blood tests, pulmonary assessments, X-rays and CT scans. Despite the lack of a definite cure for pulmonary fibrosis, patients could use disease management drugs and none-drug treatment options to manage their conditions.

References

Dempsey, O. & Miller, D. (2013). Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. BMJ, 347(Nov07 4), f6579-f6579. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f6579

Kolliputi, N. (2012). Viruses: Cofactors in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. Virology & Mycology, 01(03). http://dx.doi.org/10.4172/2161-0517.1000e104

Ley, B., Collard, H., & King, T. (2011). Clinical Course and Prediction of Survival in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. Am J Respir Crit Care Med, 183(4), 431-440. http://dx.doi.org/10.1164/rccm.201006-0894ci

Lloyd, M., Patricia, G. (2013). Clinical Features and Diagnosis. Clinical Pharmacist. http://dx.doi.org/10.1211/cp.2013.11127258

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