Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis

November 12, 2012

Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis

The condition idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is when the lungs begin to thicken and scars start to form and all this happens with no obvious reason. This condition is very difficult to diagnose and progresses quickly. The research that is available shows that once a patient has received a diagnosis of IPF their life expectancy can range on average between 3 and 6 years. Patients with this condition are suffering from an oxygen deficiency which means they are not able to breathe normally.

There is no medication available just now to treat this condition and the scarring that has occurred in the lungs can only be removed surgically. But there are options and alternatives available to deal with this condition.

Patients who suffer from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis have to carry an oxygen tank so they don’t run out of breath and this means they have to be aware of the amount of gas that is available in the tank. Obviously keeping away from flames, cigarettes or matches is very important.

It is also important for patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis to take part in regular exercise and maintain a healthy diet. By doing this the body builds strength and immunity to inside and outside elements.

Corticosteroid medication can be given to patients on occasions but this requires frequent check-ups to ensure the medicine is working in a positive manner. Coricosteroids are used to fight inflammation in the lungs and to prevent more scarring of the lungs. It has not been proved conclusively what amount of corticosteroid medication should be given to patients as the research that has been carried out has not provided clear results.

The other drugs that are used in the treatment of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis are cytoxics and colchicines. More research is required to know the exact effect of these medications. Cytoxics are given to patients who may suffer from the side effects of taking corticosteroids or may have other medical conditions that cause conflict with the corticosteroids. The small clinical trials that have been carried out on cytotoxics appear to be encouraging.

The main purpose of pharmaceutical medication is to reduce the inflammation that occurs in the lungs which is one of the main factors of IPF and all the other problems lead off from this. Once the inflammation has started in the lungs unfortunately there is no drug available that can stop it. The fibrotic process occurs because of this inflammation but there is no research available to show whether this can be halted once it starts.

Extreme treatment for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is to carry out a lung transplant on those patients whose life is in serious danger. But for the patients who have had this carried out about 50% of them live for approximately 5 years after the surgery.

Any patients who have respiratory or lung conditions should avoid smoking as it causes damage to the lungs. Some patients who suffer from IPF have gone on to suffer from pulmonary hypertension which can result in heart failure. It is very important to keep the IPF monitored and managed.

The alternative treatments are focusing on pharmaceutical research to try and produce medication that will be used to treat idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. The medication methotrexate is used in the treatment of other lung related conditions and is an option that may be considered in treating IPF. Other approaches are to concentrate on reducing the fibrosis effects because so far the medication used in treating the inflammation in the lungs has not been that successful.

Like other debilitating conditions, prevention is always best if at all possible. People who may be more prone to developing IPF are more than likely smokers, drug users, those who do not have a healthy lifestyle and not taking part in physical exercise. If you live in an area that has high air pollution levels it may be IPF could be set off. Apart from trying to live a well balanced, stress free and healthy lifestyle at present there is no other way to reduce the likelihood of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis from developing.

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