If you have been diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), you may wish to go over the following additional four questions with your physician:
1. Am I a part of the risk group for IPF?
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.
2. What line of treatment will be prescribed for me?
Unfortunately no definitive and foolproof treatments are available at the moment because the cause of 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 medication/medicament 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 agents Pirfenidone and Bosentan
• Antioxidant N-acetylcysteine, prednisone and Azathioprine produced a slight benefit
• Antiviral cytokines – Interferon Gamma and Interferon Beta
3. What complications can occur in IPF?
Complications are common and often a symptom of the IPF. 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.
4. What is the prognosis for IPF?
Prognosis for the disease is unfortunately bleak and most people continue to get worse despite corticosteroids. On average, people live less than three years after diagnosis. A few people survive for more than five years after diagnosis. A few die within several months.