How to Treat IPF
While there's no cure for Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF), there are many treatment options available that can help you keep your quality of life and activity level. Medication and oxygen therapy may slow down the progression of this disease and reduce the symptoms. Exercise, meditation, diet, and a strong social network can help you manage the symptoms at home. In severe cases, however, a lung transplant may be necessary. Try not to worry. By building a strong support network and attending regular doctor appointments, you can still have a happy and fulfilling life.
Using Medical Treatments
Make an appointment with your doctor.Your doctor will measure your lung capacity and perform tests to see how far long your IPF has progressed. They may also refer you to a pulmonologist for this treatment. Some tests they may do include:
- Imaging tests, like X-rays and CT scan, to examine your heart and lungs.
- Pulmonary function tests to check your lung capacity. You may be asked to breathe into tubes or to exercise on a treadmill.
- A pulse oximetry, which uses a small device on your finger to test oxygen levels in your blood.
- Blood tests to check oxygen levels in your blood.
- A biopsy of lung tissue in severe cases. This may involve the use of a non-invasive scope down your throat or through surgery.
Get a prescription medication to slow down the scarring in your lungs.There 2 medications that can slow down the progress of your disease. Both are pills that you will take 2-3 times a day. Follow your doctor’s instructions for taking your medication.
- Pirfenidone (sold as Esbriet) may reduce inflammation and increase life expectancy. Its side effects include skin sensitivity to sunlight, nausea, fatigue, and indigestion.
- Nintedanib (sold as Ofev) may help reduce inflammation and prevent sudden flares of IPF. Its side effects include nausea and diarrhea. You should not take this medication if you are using blood thinners.
Get a separate prescription to manage symptoms of IPF.Depending on your condition and symptoms, your doctor may prescribe a separate medication to reduce your discomfort. Talk to your doctor about any heartburn, indigestion, or breathlessness you experience.
- You may be given a corticosteroid like Prednisone to reduce inflammation in your lungs.
- If you have heartburn or acid reflux, your doctor may prescribe a proton-pump inhibitor (PPI) to help reduce stomach acid.
- While its effectiveness is debated, some doctors may prescribe an antioxidant called N-acetylcysteine to help reduce scar tissue in your lungs.
Undergo oxygen therapy to treat low blood oxygen levels.This therapy increases your oxygen levels through a face mask or nostril tubes. The mask or tubes are attached to a device that provides the oxygen. The duration of this treatment depends on the severity of your condition.
- In some cases, you may just need to use the machine at night or while you’re walking around during the day. In more severe cases, you may need to use the machine for several hours during the day and night.
- At-home machines will typically have long tubes that will allow you to move around freely. There are also portable devices available if you need to wear the device while you work or run errands.
Get vaccinations for the flu and pneumonia.These illnesses can be much worse if you have IPF. You only need to get the pneumococcal vaccination once to protect you against pneumonia. Once a year, get your flu shot from your doctor, pharmacy, or health center.
Attend pulmonary rehabilitation classes.Pulmonary rehabilitation combines exercise, nutritional counseling, and educational support run by physiotherapists and occupational therapists. Your therapists may show you breathing exercises, help you exercise, and teach you how to eat right. Your doctor can refer you to a local program.
- These treatments usually take place at hospitals, health centers, or community centers.
- These treatments may take place as a class with other people. You might also be able to get private courses.
- You can do pulmonary rehabilitation even if you are currently undergoing oxygen treatment.
Visit your doctor regularly to monitor the progression of the disease.IPF is a progressive disease, which means that it will gradually worsen over time. Visit your doctor every 3-6 months to monitor your condition.
- Your doctor will continue to do x-rays, blood tests, pulse oximetry, and other tests to check if your disease has progressed.
- If your IPF severely worsens, your doctor may refer you to a transplant team for a lung transplant.
Managing Your Symptoms at Home
Quit smoking as soon as possible.Smoking can worsen symptoms of IPF and reduce your lung capacity. If you smoke, talk to your doctor as soon as possible about quitting. Your doctor can recommend medications, patches, and other treatments to help you quit.
- Avoid secondhand smoke as much as possible. If your friends or family smoke, ask them not to do it around you.
Exercise for 150 minutes a week to remain active.Your condition may make exercise difficult, but exercise can help improve oxygen levels in your blood. Start with low-intensity activity at first, such as walking or swimming. As you get stronger, move on to moderate intensity activities, such as using a stationary bike or elliptical.
- Aim for 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.
- Continue to exercise every week for as long as you can to help your lungs function.
Eat small, nutritious meals frequently to avoid feeling too full.Big meals can make you feel too full, which can make you feel breathless. Try switching to smaller but more frequent meals. Aim for 4-5 meals a day. Eat healthy foods, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and lean meats.
- For example, you might have oatmeal and a banana at 8 am, half of a sandwich at 11 am, the other half of the sandwich at 2 pm, carrot sticks and hummus at 4 pm, and a chicken breast and broccoli at 6 pm.
- Some nutritious foods you can include in your diet are salmon, avocado, broccoli, flax seeds, walnuts, and chicken soup.
Reduce stress through relaxation and rest.Living with IPF can be stressful. Unfortunately, stress and tension can make your symptoms worse. Reducing stress can help you stay more relaxed and help you feel better overall.
- Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Sleep can improve your general health and give you more energy during treatment. If you have trouble breathing while you're asleep, use an extra pillow to prop yourself up. Also, avoid drinking caffeine or alcohol so you sleep better at night.
- Relaxation techniques like yoga and progressive muscle relaxation can give you a sense of peace if you are tense or anxious.
- Try to avoid stressful situations. Reduce your commitments so that you can focus on your health. Surround yourself with loving and supportive people.
Practice meditation to help you relax.Using meditation to relax can help make your IPF symptoms more manageable. Take a few minutes every day to sit down in a quiet place, close your eyes, and practice some meditation..
- Deep breathing meditation is a form of meditation where you focus on taking deep breaths. It can help oxygenate your body and improve your circulation.
- You can also try visualization meditation, where you imagine a calm, relaxing place in your mind. Visualization meditation can help alleviate stress and anxiety.
Use positivity and positive affirmations to cope with your IPF.It's natural to sometimes feel sad, angry, and frustrated when you have IPF, but trying to have a more positive outlook can improve your quality of life and make dealing with your symptoms easier. Every day, remind yourself of what you're thankful for and practice positive self-talk.
- Try keeping a positivity journal where you write down the things you're grateful for and the things you've accomplished.
Join an IPF support group.IPF can affect your mental health as well as your physical health. If you feel hopeless or upset about your diagnosis, reach out to others with the same condition. Remember that you are not alone. There are others out there who understand what you are going through.
- In the U.S., you can contact the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation to see if there is a support group in your area.
- In the U.K., the British Lung Foundation runs IPF support groups. You may also be able to attend a "Breathe Easy" group for people with lung conditions.
Lose weight if you are overweight.Excess weight can increase breathlessness. Unfortunately, some people may be denied a lung transplant if they are overweight. Your doctor can refer you to a registered dietitian or a physical therapist to help you shed weight.
- A registered dietitian will help create a nutritional plan for you to lose weight. They will tailor this plan to your current condition.
- While you're trying to lose weight, focus on eating smaller, nutritious meals more frequently throughout the day.
- A physical therapist or personal trainer can help you exercise with your condition. If you are using oxygen therapy, they can help you find low-intensity activities that will not make you feel breathless.
Undergoing a Lung Transplant
Attend a transplant evaluation at a hospital or transplant center.A team of doctors will determine your eligibility for a lung transplant. The team may include a pulmonologist, surgeon, psychologist, social worker, and physical therapist.
- The team may do additional blood tests, scans, and lung tests to see how severe your condition is.
- The team will ask you questions about your support network, such as your family, friends, or support groups.
- Tell the team about any exercise regimens, pulmonary rehabilitation courses, or other physical activities you engage in. This will show that you have an active lifestyle.
- If you are overweight or if you have other health conditions, you may not be considered eligible for a lung transplant.
Get put on the lung transplant waiting list.After the evaluation, you will receive a Lung Allocation Score (LAS), which will determine your place on the lung waiting list. If the team determines that you are a good candidate for a transplant, they will enter you onto the list.
Go the hospital as soon as you receive the call that a lung is available.Once a donor lung becomes available, there is a small window of time to perform the transplant. You can get the call at any time of day or night. When you do receive the call, stop eating and drinking immediately.
- Pack a bag for the hospital once your name gets put on the transplant list. This will prepare you for going to the hospital when you get the call. Include your toiletries, a spare set of clothes, and something to entertain you while you recover.
Undergo surgery at the hospital or transplant center.An anesthesiologist will put you under anesthesia for the entire surgery. Your surgery may take anywhere from 4 to 10 hours. The surgeons will remove your scarred lungs and replace them with the donor lungs.
Recovering after Surgery
Limit movement and activity while you recover at home.Generally, you will stay in the hospital for 2-3 weeks after surgery. After that, you will be discharged. You may still be recovering for up to 4 weeks after that. Your transplant team will give you instructions on how to care for yourself at home.
Take anti-rejection medication to help your new lungs heal.Anti-rejection medication prevents your body from attacking the new organs. You will need to remain on this medication for the rest of your life. Follow your doctor’s instructions for taking this medication.
Attend regular follow-up appointments with the transplant team.Your new lungs will need to be monitored regularly by a pulmonologist or other specialists to make sure that your body is not rejecting your lungs. You may have blood tests and scans every 4-6 weeks.
Get immediate medical attention if you notice flu-like symptoms.Congestion, coughing, shortness of breath, and fever may be signs that your body is rejecting your lungs or that you have developed an infection. If you notice these symptoms, contact your doctor immediately.
- If possible, visit or move somewhere near the ocean. Ocean air can help your lungs function better and make your IPF more tolerable.
- It is okay to feel nervous, anxious, or scared while you’re waiting on the lung transplant list. Your transplant center may offer support groups and counseling as you wait for a lung.
Video: What is Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF)?
How to Use Henna for Skin
How to Prevent Night Sweats
River Island Menswear: SS13 Round-up
This Strictly Star Has Just Announced Exciting Baby News
40 Tree Leg Tattoo Design Ideas For Men – Rooted Ink
Bourbon-Glazed Beef Short Ribs Recipe
Crushed’ Grantchester fans react following sad James Norton news
You Can Now Buy The Property Brothers Entire Home Line on Amazon
How to Change Careers After 50
Prince William Has Kate Middleton in Hysterics as He Gallops During Royal Variety Show
From The Experts: All The Style Mistakes You (Probably) Made In 2019
How to Have Fun by Yourself on a Saturday Night