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Transcript of Pulmonary Fibrosis
What is Fibrosis
Pulmonary fibrosis occurs when the lining of the alveoli becomes damaged, normally by microparticles found in the air. When the body tries to repair itself, it does so by releasing a type of cell called fibroblasts. Something causes the production of these cells to go out of control and the healthy tissue is replaced with hardened and scar tissue.
Shortness of breath
Due to the amount of scar tissue, the total volume the lungs can hold is greatly reduced. This means the amount of oxygen that is available also decreases. It decreases further as the build up of scar tissue lengthens the diffusion pathway, making it harder for the oxygen to diffuse across.
Chronic dry cough
Built up scar tissue blocks airways causing the body's natural reaction to cough to be stimulated.
Pain and discomfort in the chest
The mass of scar tissue can weigh down on the lungs and further damage can be caused from coughing, creating more pain and discomfort
Weakness and fatigue
With the diffusion pathway lengthened, it causes a reduced amount of oxygen in the body
What are the treatment options?
Currently, there is no known cure for pulmonary fibrosis. Therefore all treatments administered are aimed to lessen the symptoms.
Glenn and Susan Toole (2008). AQA Biology. Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes Ltd.
What exactly causes it?
Pulmonary fibrosis is actually known as idiopathic as, despite lots of clinical trials the cause of fibrosis is still unknown. It is thought it is caused by the lungs being damaged on a microscopic level, although evidence shows that genetics also play a part.
What are its affects?
We know that fibrosis causes scarring in the lungs. This causes problems breathing as the walls of the alveoli are thickened, lengthening the diffusion pathway. Oxygen can't diffuse in the blood as efficiently because of this. Also, due to the extra tissue now in the lungs, the volume of air each lung can hold will decrease.
There is a whole range of medicines used to help lessen the affects, the most common being steroids. However, the side effects can be quiet severe in all the medications prescribed. If someones condition is mild or the medication isn't reducing the symptoms, they may be recommended not to take anything at all.
This is the preferred treatment recommended by health care professionals. The aim is to use many different professionals to help the person come to terms and move on as normally as possible with minimal effects from the symptoms. This is a long term solution.