WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:
Pulmonary fibrosis is the scarring of your lung tissues over time. It is also called interstitial lung disease. The air sacs and tissues in your lungs swell, scars form, and the tissues become thick and stiff. This affects how much oxygen you get and makes it hard to breathe.
- Medicines may be given to decrease lung tissue swelling and help prevent scarring.
- Take your medicine as directed. Contact your primary healthcare provider (PHP) if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.
Use oxygen at home:
Use oxygen at home as directed. It is usually given through a nasal cannula. This is a pair of short, thin tubes that rest just inside your nose. Tell your PHP if your nose gets dry or if the skin gets red or sore. Never smoke or let anyone else smoke in the same room while your oxygen is on. This can cause a fire.
Do breathing exercises:
Do breathing exercises at home to help you breathe more easily. Breathe out with pursed or puckered lips. Use your diaphragm to breathe. Put one hand on your abdomen and breathe in, causing your hand to move outward or upward. This helps make more room so your lungs can take in more air.
Go to pulmonary rehabilitation:
Pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) is a program run by specialists who will help you safely strengthen your lungs and prevent more tissue damage. The plan includes education about your condition, exercise, breathing strategies, and ways to conserve energy. PR may help decrease your breathing problems and help you function better in your daily activities.
Do not smoke:
If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Smoking increases the damage to your lung tissue. Ask your PHP for information if you need help quitting.
Get the flu vaccine:
Get the flu vaccine every year as soon as it becomes available. You may also need the pneumococcal vaccine to prevent pneumonia.
Follow up with your PHP or pulmonologist as directed:
You may need to return for more CT scans or pulmonary function tests to monitor your condition. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
Contact your PHP if:
- You have a fever.
- You cough up bloody mucus.
- You are wheezing.
- You have swelling in your legs or feet.
- You need more oxygen than you used to.
- You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.
Return to the emergency department if:
- You have sudden severe trouble breathing.
- You have a fast heartbeat or chest pain.
- Your shortness of breath gets worse.
- You feel so dizzy that you cannot stand up.
- Your lips or fingernails turn blue.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.