Lung scarring caused by pulmonary fibrosis isn’t reversible, nor is there a treatment that has been effective in stopping the progression of the disease. However, some treatments can improve symptoms temporarily or even slow the disease’s progression. What’s more, many therapies focus on improving the patient’s quality of life.
Doctors will determine what treatment option is the best for you.
Medications like pirfenidone (Esbriet) and nintedanib (Ofev) work to help slow the progression of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). Side effects of pirfenidone include nausea, diarrhea, and rash, while side effects of nintedanib include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
There is also ongoing research with a focus on finding additional medications to help with pulmonary fibrosis.
While oxygen therapy doesn’t stop lung damage, it does help make breathing easier. Oxygen therapy also helps make exercising easier. Some other benefits of oxygen therapy are the prevention or lowering of the complications caused by low blood oxygen levels. Oxygen therapy can also reduce blood pressure in the right side of your heart, and it can work to improve a patient’s sleep and sense of well-being.
A patient can receive oxygen via a tank when sleeping or when exercising. Other patients may need to go on oxygen therapy at all times. In those cases, most patients would be given a mobile canister of oxygen.
Pulmonary rehabilitation helps patients to manage their symptoms and thus improve their daily lives. Most programs of pulmonary rehabilitation focus on physical exercise for improving a patient’s endurance; breathing techniques that can help improve lung efficiency; nutritional counseling; regular counseling and support; and education about the patient’s condition.
Some patients with pulmonary fibrosis may be eligible for a lung transplant, which can improve a patient’s quality of life. However, lung transplants are not for everyone and come with their own set of risks.
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