Pulmonary fibrosis is characterised by scarring of the lungs, which struggle to absorb oxygen.
Oxygen is absorbed into the lungs at the end of the smallest respiratory tract. In pulmonary fibrosis, the walls of the alveoli continue to grow thicker. This means that less oxygen can enter the bloodstream and will negatively affect the carbon dioxide at a later stage.
Lethargy and fatigued
The course of pulmonary fibrosis is not positive. Over the course of months or years, the lungs deteriorate and when the lung capacity is reduced, breathing is very difficult. During exercise, people with pulmonary fibrosis suffer from severe anxiety and shortness of breath. In addition, pulmonary fibrosis often causes symptoms such as fatigue and lethargy.
While a small number of people inherit pulmonary fibrosis, the majority has another cause. This can be from:
- prolonged exposure to certain chemicals (i.e. paint and asbestos)
- organic material (i.e. pigeon dung or hay)
- medications (i.e. chemotherapy.)
- Diseases of the immune system (i.e. rheumatoid arthritis and scleroderma.)
Course and treatment
The disease often develops in people over sixty. Symptoms may stabilise for some time, but may also slowly get worse in time. The majority of patients who have pulmonary fibrosis with an underlying disease process that is unclear. There is no cure.
Specialised treatments can help to reduce symptoms. They mainly focus on improving the efficiency of oxygen intake and consumption. The guidance focuses on reducing the symptoms. Each patient benefits from a different approach tailored to their needs.