When the fibrous tissues in the lung exceed their limit and start growing excessively, a chronic lung disease, known as pulmonary fibrosis occurs. Scarring of intestinal tissues is one of its primary characteristics. This scarring weakens the elasticity of the pulmonary tissues, thus thwarting the lung performance. Since these scars take the place of healthy tissues, breathing problems are to be expected. This article will discuss the life expectancy for people with pulmonary fibrosis as well as other information you should know to avoid the risks or prolong the expectancy.
Pulmonary Fibrosis Life Expectancy
The greatest adversity of pulmonary fibrosis lies in the fact that damage endured by the lungs is irreversible. Since it is a progressive disease, the lung tissue affected by scarring weakens over time.
Drug treatments have yet to prove effective when it comes to reversing the damage and since no treatment has been found, the life expectancy due to this disease is quite bleak, with two to five years being an average. This time-line is slightly flexible, as it depends on the rate of deterioration.
Factors that Influence Pulmonary Fibrosis Prognosis
There is a wide host of factors that determines the life expectancy of patients suffering from pulmonary fibrosis. Factors such as general health, medical history and lifestyle, all play a part in shaping the prognosis. Pulmonary fibrosis is usually diagnosed in patients in their mid-forties and fifties, though this is not a rule of generalization, as children (6 to 8 years old) and senior citizens have also fallen prey to this disease. According to statistics, the mortality rate of pulmonary fibrosis is higher in men as compared to women. A few factors that help determine the prognosis are:
1. Time of Diagnosis
Patients diagnosed at a younger age tend to have a better prognosis. The result is also favorable if the disease is caught within a year of its development.
2. Extent of Damage
It makes perfect sense when assuming that the worse the scarring, the worse the extent of the disease. Thus, life expectancy is bound to be positive, if the damage done by the disease is lower at the start. An example of this lies in the breathing pattern. Since one of the main characteristics of pulmonary fibrosis is breathlessness, a more positive outcome can be expected if the breathing problems are moderate at the time of diagnosis.
3. Response to Treatment
Since everybody exhibits different signs and healing patterns, some patients tend to respond better to therapy. Naturally, patients who are more responsive to treatment are bound to live longer. Usually, if there are signs of improvement within three to six months of treatment, the patient is said to be responding well to the treatment. Smoking is another factor that may help shape the outcome of the prognosis, as nonsmokers sometimes respond better to therapy.
4. Identifiable Cause
A patient can expect a better prognosis, if the root-cause of the scarring can be identified. The development of the disease can be decelerated if the underlying cause is found and treated via drug therapy.
Risk Factors of Pulmonary Fibrosis
The factors that increase the chances of developing pulmonary fibrosis include:
According to statistics, pulmonary fibrosis affects middle-aged people rather than children. This is by no means a rule of fact though, as children have also been diagnosed with the disease
Smokers are more susceptible to pulmonary fibrosis than nonsmokers. This also applies to former smokers
Being exposed to pollutants increases the chance of lung and tissue damage, which in turn escalates the risk of pulmonary fibrosis
Radiation therapy and chemotherapy also damage lung tissues and can play a part in the development of the disease
There are a few types of pulmonary fibrosis which are determined by DNA rather than any external factors.
Medical Treatments for Pulmonary Fibrosis
Pulmonary fibrosis causes scarring in lung tissue and is irreversible. Currently, there are no treatments that have shown signs of being able to reverse the damage; there are, however, some treatments that can slow the disease down and decrease its progression rate.
No medication has proven to be effective in reversing the disease; however, it has been seen that adding N-acetylcysteine to prednisone can slow the rate of progress in some patients. Other therapies that may not stop or reverse scarring are used:
2. Oxygen Therapy
Oxygen therapy is useless for stopping lung damage, but it does help a patient breathe easily. It is also useful for lowering blood pressure on the right side of the heart and improving sleeping patterns.
3. Pulmonary Rehabilitation
Pulmonary rehabilitation focuses on treating the disease, and helping patients live with pulmonary fibrosis. Pulmonary rehabilitation has different programs that focus on physical exercise, which goes a long way in improving endurance. Breathing techniques are also used and help improve lung functionality and efficiency; other programs, like emotional support, also help patients converse with other patients in finding the best way to deal with the disease. Nutritional counseling is also employed to increase the body’s strength.
If other treatment options have not been proven effective, lung transplantation may be an option of last resort for younger people with severe pulmonary fibrosis.
Home Remedies for Pulmonary Fibrosis
The best cure for any disease is prevention, and pulmonary fibrosis is no exception. The home remedies recommended by doctors are not only limited to patients with pulmonary fibrosis, but rather they are a general guideline towards living a healthy life.
1. Quit Smoking
The first and foremost decision a patient with pulmonary fibrosis has to take is to quit smoking. Smoking not only increases chances of getting pulmonary fibrosis, but all lungs related diseases are exacerbated by smoking.
2. Keep Proper Diet
Patients with pulmonary fibrosis find it difficult to eat simply because it requires too much strength or because of the breathing problems they face while eating. However, a proper diet with sufficient calories can increase the general health of the body. Try working with a dietician to come up with the best diet plan for your condition.
3. Get Vaccinations
Any respiratory disease or infection can make what is already a painful disease even worse, so it is recommended for patients to get proper vaccinations to help prevent other diseases like flu from making pulmonary fibrosis worse.
Watch a video to learn more about Pulmonary Fibrosis: