If you've had Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis since before October of 2014, then you're probably familiar with the ways to treat it that doesn't involve pharmaceuticals. If you've recently been diagnosed with IPF, then you might not be aware of the non-pharmacological ways of lessening the symptoms of this disease.
IPF is the name given to the condition that causes deep tissue in the lungs to thicken, making it harder to bring enough oxygen to the bloodstream. Not to be confused with emphysema, IPF isn't found to be mostly caused by smoking.
Inhalation of pollutants, certain medications, genetics, and sometimes unknown causes contribute to the development of this condition, but smoking might still be a playing factor. After all, smoking is bad for your entire body and can only help cause health problems.
Only as of October 2014, there is nintedanib (Ofev) and pirfenidone (Esbriet), two medications that can treat IPF. Even with the FDA approvals of these two drugs, doctors are still sticking to the previous ways of helping patients to deal with IPF.
Supervised by a respiratory therapist, patients are guided through a specific type of exercise program, which targets the use of the lungs. These breathing exercises are used to help strengthen the lungs, and to keep them as functional as possible, for as long as possible.
It's not just breathing exercises and gentle cardio, but nutrition counseling, education and counseling through the psychological and emotional toll that a disease like this takes on a person.
The use of medical grade oxygen with oxygen tanks and oxygen concentrators has also been found to treat IPF effectively. Experts agree that it's helpful with preventing breathlessness in people who can't get enough oxygen into the bloodstream.
It's also essential for IPF patients to keep an eye on their blood oxygen level with a handheld blood oximeter. This will let them know if the dosage they are getting is enough, and if they need to tell their doctor that they might need a higher dose.
Palliative care is when a patient is treated both mentally and physically for a disease. It's useful in treating similar diseases like COPD, as well, which take a toll on a patient's entire well-being. Anxiety and stress are two huge factors, which contribute to the overall health decline.
IPF is now the leading indication for lung transplants in the US, but only 13% of those with the disease are found to be candidates. This is because other health problems alongside IPF would cause issues with such a great kind of surgery.
Even with lung transplant surgery out of the question, there is still plenty you can do besides taking medication for pulmonary fibrosis. Oxygen therapy, along with responsibility therapy and palliative care can help you live a higher quality of life.
Information on this page is for reference and educational purposes only. For more information about idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, talk to your doctor or primary care provider.
Page last updated: October 2, 2018
- Mayo Clinic. Pulmonary fibrosis. Last updated: March 6, 2018. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/pulmonary-fibrosis/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20353695