What Causes Pulmonary Fibrosis? Its Symptoms And Treatment Options

The lung comprises of alveoli which are air sacs which help blood absorb oxygen from the air and release carbon-dioxide into the air and thereby purifying itself. Alveolar sacs are composed of a unique tissue type and can be damaged due to a host of factors. Damage to the tissue, get replaced with fibrous cells which is referred to as fibrosis and this reduces the ability of the lungs to facilitate the purification of the blood.

There are a host of factors that are associated or considered to be risk factors for the development of pulmonary fibrosis.

Some of these factors include the following,

  • Chronic inflammatory conditions like Wegener’s granulomatosis and sarcoidosis are associated with fibrosis of lung tissue.
  • Infections and exposure to environmental toxins like silica, asbestos or certain harmful gas can also increase the risk of pulmonary fibrosis.
  • Radiotherapy is considered to be another cause for the onset of pulmonary fibrosis.
  • Certain medications and chronic conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus are also associated with pulmonary fibrosis.
  • Some forms of pulmonary fibrosis are known to be of familial origin and runs in families.
  • Certain causes of pulmonary fibrosis are idiopathic or not clearly understood.
    Smoking is however considered to increase the risk of pulmonary fibrosis.

Pulmonary Fibrosis Symptoms

Some of the common symptoms associated with pulmonary fibrosis include the following,

  • Shortness of the breath and breathlessness on slightest excretion. The condition is also associated with reduced tolerance to exercise.
  • Frequent coughing, usually with the production of sputum is common symptom.
  • Other associated symptoms may include tachycardia or increased heart rate and cyanosis (i.e. bluish coloration of finger nails).

These symptoms may vary depending upon the stage of the disease and its progression. During initial phase the shortness of the breath is usually associated with exertion, however eventually dyspnea gets worse and can come on during rest.

Other associated symptoms include unexplained weight loss, generalized tiredness and weakness and inability to concentrate.

Treatment Options For Pulmonary Fibrosis

The treatment usually depends upon the severity of the symptoms and the progression of this disease. In general reports have indicated that the prognosis of the condition is very poor and majority of the patients die within a period of five years.

While there are several clinical trials that are underway to treat the condition, there is little understanding and information about how to treat the condition promptly. Lung transplant is considered to be the only treatment that can improve the prognosis of the condition.

Alternative therapy is not known to improve the survival rates, but is considered to improve the quality of life considerably. Yoga and deep breathing techniques, coupled with meditation are considered very useful to increase lung capacity; however progressive nature of the disease may eventually result in complete lung damage. Some naturopaths recommend the use of turmeric and raw honey- both of which have strong anti-inflammatory properties and can help slow the pace of the progression of the disease.

Homeopathic drugs like Antimony tart have been helpful in the treatment and management of pulmonary fibrosis. The drug should be taken in low potency and should be repeated multiple times in the day.

Include iron supplements or food rich in iron to increase hemoglobin levels to enhance the oxygen retention capacity of blood. This doesn’t treat pulmonary fibrosis but can help alleviate some of the symptoms.