The major risk groups for this serious and often deadly disease are those over 50 years of age, people who smoke or are exposed to secondary smoke everyday for long hours.
Unfortunately no definitive and foolproof treatments are available at the moment because the cause of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) is unknown. So, treatment still remains limited to managing symptoms and avoiding possible causes and triggers and prescribing a case by case treatment.
I have outlined some treatments that are prescribed by doctors that have found some success in treating the condition (do not take medicines without prior consultation with the doctor or without taking his prescription specifying methods, dosage of medications, etc), and they are:
• Corticosteroids and cytotoxic drugs may help reduce swelling (inflammation).
• Supplementary oxygen through aerators
• Lung rehabilitation to minimize deterioration (includes oxygen therapy, medication, exercise, physiotherapy, etc.)
• Lung transplant
• Combination of prednisone with either cyclophosphamide or azathioprine over many months.
• Anti-fibrotic agent Pirfenidone and Bosentan.
• Antioxidant N-acetylcysteine to prednisone and Azathioprine produced a slight benefit.
• Antiviral cytokines – Interferon Gamma and Interferon Beta
Complications are common and often a symptom of the Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. Any of a number of conditions such as respiratory failure, pulmonary hypertension, abnormally high levels of RBCs, and low levels of blood oxygen level or pneumothorax may occur as the disease advances.
Prognosis for the disease is unfortunately bleak and most people continue to get worse despite corticosteroids. On average, people live less than 3 years after diagnosis. A few people survive for more than 5 years after diagnosis. A few die within several months.
Mamta Singh is a published author of the books Migraines for the Informed Woman (Publisher: Rupa & Co.) and the upcoming Rev Up Your Life! (Publisher: Hay House India). She is also a seasoned business, creative and academic writer.