lungs

Long live the lungs: 3 Treatment Options for Pulmonary Fibrosis

Pulmonary fibrosis occurs when the tissue in the lungs becomes scarred. The damaged tissue becomes stiff and thick and makes it difficult for the lungs to work properly. The condition is characterized by shortness of breath, tiredness, a dry cough and unexplained weight loss.

Airborne toxins, cancer treatments and medical conditions, such as pneumonia or rheumatoid arthritis, can cause pulmonary fibrosis to occur. Unfortunately, there is no cure for the disease. However, treating the disease with the following options can help to prevent the condition from worsening and improve symptoms.

Pulmonary Rehabilitation

Because people who suffer from pulmonary fibrosis often experience breathlessness, participating in pulmonary rehabilitation can help to restore lung function. The rehabilitation consists of exercises that will help to condition and strengthen the lungs so a patient can function in their daily life without feeling breathless. Both breathing exercises and exercise training are part of pulmonary rehabilitation as well as techniques to reduce stress and anxiety.

As a part of rehabilitation, many doctors recommend lifestyle changes to patients such as managing their weight, quitting smoking and getting vaccinated to prevent influenza and pneumonia from occurring and worsening the condition.

Medications

Corticosteroids can be prescribed by a doctor to suppress the immune system, which will decrease inflammation in the lungs and make breathing easier. Acetylcysteine is often prescribed along with corticosteroids. Acetylcysteine is derived from a naturally occurring amino acid. Taken together they can help slow the progression of pulmonary fibrosis.

Pirfenidone is an anti-inflammatory that can also be prescribed to reduce inflammation in the lungs and improve breathing. Additionally, N-acetylcysteine is another popular option. It is an antioxidant that is taken by mouth several times a day and it can help to prevent lung damage.

Lung Transplantation

For younger patients who are no longer responding to other treatment options, a lung transplantation has been proven to improve lung function and quality of life. In one study, 79 percent of patients were still living one year after the surgery and 39 percent were still alive five years later. Patients must first be carefully evaluated before being placed on the transplant waiting list. They must prove that they have adhered to other treatments, are in good health, are at an ideal weight and have a support system in the form of family and friends.

Treatment options, such as pulmonary rehabilitation and medications, can be changed by a doctor as the disease progresses. Because pulmonary fibrosis is different from person to person, treatment plans should be individualized by each patient’s situation and disease stage. A medical doctor will be able to decide what options are best for each patient and if a lung transplantation is the best option for treating the disease.

 

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Person Centered Planning: Focusing on The Individual

When a family member is experiencing a chronic or serious disability or illness or when they are aging and may need extra support and services, person centered planning is often used to help. This is an approach to aid and care that puts the individual first and asks them directly about what they want and need in terms of help. It is the ideal way to deal with these often very difficult situations in care.

Each process will be customized in a different way, and that is why it is person centered. But in general, you will be able to use the following principles to help your loved one or the person in need when it comes to person centered planning.

1. It is important to make sure the individual is the focus of the plans.

At all times and at every point in the decision making process, the individual needs to be at the center. This will include decisions on when the planning will happen and how it will happen. If the person wants to return to certain decisions, that is their choice as well.

2. The individual also invites who they want to the planning and arrangements team.

The planning team will be integral to the success of this plan for your friend or loved one. It is they who will collectively arrange many of the decisions you make. Only the individual at the center of the planning can choose these individuals.

3. It is the team members who will find and improve a natural support system of treatments and individuals.

The team members will spread out to carry out the wishes of the individual. It should always be the individual who directs the projects and processes that the team members organize and arrange.

4. Both formal and informal options of support can be implemented.

The team members and individual should keep in mind that formal services, such as those from adult day caring services and hospitals can be used. But informal services like help from friends and family members can be employed as well.

5. The individual themselves will be able to talk freely about their wants, needs and overall preferences.

To help individuals talk about their own plans and implement ideas, desires and needs, the rest of the team members should ensure that the appropriate accommodations are made for them.

6. Lastly, if an individual needs additional help to make these critical decisions, they will get that help while remaining the center of the decision-making process.

Sometimes, individuals need to have close friends or relatives at their side to help them make a critical decision. This should also be accommodated, but these individuals should never take over the dialogue.