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Pulmonary fibrosis

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Pulmonary Fibrosis
Pathology
Type

Lung disease

Cause(s)

Various

Symptoms

Difficulty breathing, fatigue

Mortality Rate

Inevitably fatal

Treatments

Steroids, oxygen

Show Information
  [Source]
IPF amiodarone

An x-ray of a patient with pulmonary fibrosis, courtesy James Heilman MD, via Wikipedia.

Pulmonary fibrosis describes a gradual scarring of the tissues of the lungs that absorb oxygen into the bloodstream. As a result, those tissues eventually become unable to absorb oxygen, lessening the lung capacity of the patient until the patient becomes hypoxic. In addition, the tissues of the lungs become increasingly inflamed, constricting the bronchial tubes, eventually causing suffocation.

There are several reasons why the lungs may start scarring, but in many cases the cause is unknown (idiopathic). However, smoking and exposure to a poor atmosphere in the workplace are often leading causes.

Patients usually require a constant supply of oxygen as they become unable to extract sufficient oxygen from air. However, the constant supply of oxygen usually has the side effect of damaging the lungs further. As such, most patients have to be given steroids (usually in aerosol form) to reduce inflammation and open the bronchial tubes. However, patients gradually adjust to the drugs and require higher doses to get the same effect.

Prednisone is the steroid of last resort as although it is incredibly effective, it has drastic side effects including immunosuppression. In addition, once a patient is on prednisone, they cannot be taken off the drug without the symptoms rebounding, causing life-threatening bronchial constriction.

Ideopathic pulmonary fibrosis at Wikipedia

Pulmonary fibrosis at Wikipedia

Pulmonary fibrosis at Mayo Clinic

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