If you were diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis or think you may have it, you're understandably worried about your future. This chronic lung disorder is complex. It's difficult to diagnose and manage. That's why you'll want to come to UVA Health for an accurate diagnosis and for our comprehensive pulmonary fibrosis treatment.
Pulmonary Fibrosis Treatment at UVA Health
Pulmonary fibrosis scars and thickens the tissue around and between the airways in your lungs. It’s the common factor among many different interstitial lung diseases (ILD).
UVA Health has one of the nation's top Interstitial Lung Disease Programs. And we're 1 of only 2 Virginia centers in the Care Center Network of the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation. This means you'll find:
- Experienced medical professionals who understand your disease
- Extensive support services to improve your quality of life
Pulmonary fibrosis is often misdiagnosed. Or the prognosis seems worse than it is. At UVA Health, our experience in pulmonary fibrosis means we can find the exact type and know how best to treat it. We'll develop an approach for your unique condition.
How Research Helps Treatment
Our investigational research and clinical trials help us offer you the latest treatments.
Get a glimpse of the medical horizon: Find out more about our current research in pulmonary fibrosis.
Treatment Options for Pulmonary Fibrosis
Pulmonary fibrosis treatment aims to reverse inflammation and stop scar formation. In some types of ILD, damage to the lungs can’t be reversed. But treatment will help to ease symptoms and improve quality of life.
Our lung (pulmonary) experts also work with other specialists to help you manage other conditions that can damage your lungs. These range from GERD to rheumatoid arthritis or scleroderma.
Pulmonary fibrosis treatment will be based on your specific condition and symptoms.
Medications can help to slow the progression of ILD. Options include:
- Pirfenidone and nintedanib, (UVA Health was one of the first centers that studied the effectiveness of pirfenidone in IPF, leading to the approval of the drug.)
- Supplemental oxygen therapy; in people with low oxygen saturation, this treatment increases the amount of oxygen in the blood, improves symptoms and allows patients to live longer and healthier lives.
- In some cases, medications that suppress the immune system (interfere with the process of inflammation and fibrosis).
Pulmonary rehabilitation helps you manage shortness of breath. Rehabilitation is tailored to your needs but may include:
- Breathing techniques and coping strategies
- Support from others
Learning to live with an illness can be difficult. You may benefit from psychological counseling that can help you better manage your life. Counseling can be individual or in a support group.
If you smoke, your doctor will advise you about the most effective programs to help you quit.
If other treatments fail, you may need a lung transplant. A transplant can improve both the quality and length of your life.
Preventing Lung Disease
Not all ILDs can be prevented. To help reduce your exposure to substances associated with some ILDs:
- Talk to your doctor about ways to help you quit smoking
- Avoid lung irritants whenever possible
- Follow occupational guidelines to protect your lungs at work
- Use proper protection when exposed to harmful chemicals, dust or animal droppings
What Causes Pulmonary Fibrosis?
Pulmonary fibrosis can result from environmental exposures and medications to autoimmune diseases. When we can't find a cause, we call this idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).
Researchers think that IPF is an exaggerated and uncontrolled inflammatory response. This produces scar tissue. What starts the cycle is not known. Over time, scarring surrounds the thin-walled air sacs in the lungs. This makes the tissue thicker and stiffer. As a result, breathing becomes difficult. The lungs gradually lose their ability to pass oxygen to the rest of the body.
Who's at Risk for PF?
IPF occurs most often in males and people over 50. Other factors below may increase your chance of PF include:
- Sex: male
- Age: 50 and older
- Cigarette smoking
- Viral infection
- Occupational exposures to dusts containing wood, metal, silica, bacteria, animal proteins, aerosol sprays, gases and fumes
- Medications such as nitrofurantoin, sulfasalazine, amiodarone, propranolol, methotrexate, cyclophosphamide, bleomycin
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
- Other family members with IPF
At UVA Health, you'll find the comprehensive pulmonary fibrosis treatment needed to help you breathe easier. Meet a patient we helped get back to enjoying activities he loves.