Pulmonary Fibrosis - The Stages
Being diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis
proves to be devastating and life altering. Doctors report that no cure exists for this condition. Even so, patients can continue to live peaceful lives after being diagnosed with this illness. As they prepare to leave this world, patients may benefit from knowing the stages of pulmonary fibrosis.
The earliest stages of pulmonary fibrosis are marked by wheezing and difficulty breathing. In fact, most patients believe that they have bronchitis or a chest cold. They often cough up dark-colored sputum and have difficulty breathing while they are lying down.
As the disease progresses, people notice that their chests tighten during even the shallowest of breathing. They often have difficulty catching their breath after a coughing spell. Sometimes their coughing fits are so violent that their ribs crack and their muscles in their chests become strained. Most people at this point seek medical intervention and learn of their diagnosis of suffering from pulmonary fibrosis.
Pulmonary Fibrosis Treatment Options
With a patient's permission, a physician may decide to attempt treatments that are designed to prolong a person's life. Many doctors prescribe steroids that open airways in the lungs; likewise, patients may take cortisone treatments that help strengthen their lungs and improve the lungs' elasticity. With these treatments, people may add several months to their lives.
Additionally, patients may benefit from using oxygen. Doctors can arrange for home delivery of oxygen and related equipment to the person's home. That individual often must wear nasal canules or a breathing mask to introduce pure oxygen into the person's airways. This treatment helps people breathe better and keeps their bodies oxygenated.
However, eventually the disease overwhelms people's lungs. These organs lose their elasticity, and the airways narrow to the point that air can no longer move in and out without great effort. It is in these final stages that people prepare to say goodbye to their loved ones. Many doctors refer patients to hospice services at this point. As they spend their final days, hospice workers can keep patients medicated and comfortable until they pass.
It is at this point as well that patients' loved ones often struggle with watching this disease take hold of these individuals. People with pulmonary fibrosis often struggle to breathe and sometimes gasp for air during this final stage. Their faces, lips, and fingernails may turn blue from the lack of oxygen. Even more, their breathing may be so labored that their relatives believe these patients to be in pain. Most people do not live longer than a week or two at this final stage.
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