The lungs are primarily responsible for ensuring that our bodies -- organs, tissues, muscles, tendons, etc. -- receive the oxygen they need to function. The oxygen is delivered to the rest of our body by the blood. The lungs are also responsible for releasing carbon dioxide (the byproduct of our body using oxygen to function) from our bodies and back into the air around us. As the carbon dioxide is expelled, it is replaced by oxygen and the whole process continues.
If anything impedes or affects the lungs' capacity to eliminate carbon dioxide, take in oxygen and oxygenate the blood that will travel through our body, every aspect of our physical being suffers. Our muscles won't work like they should. Our organs won't work like they should. Lung impairment can affect the quality of sleep we get at night which in turn will affect our ability to focus and concentrate on the things we need to do throughout the day.
One such condition that can affect this optimum balance, is pulmonary fibrosis.
What is Pulmonary Fibrosis?
Pulmonary fibrosis is a chronic, progressive disease where alveoli and interstitial tissues (tissues in between the cells) of the lungs become scarred. This scarred tissue compromises the lungs' ability to complete the carbon dioxide/oxygen swap.
It is believed that this scar tissue develops after repeated episodes of injury to the lungs through infections and exposure to harmful environmental sources. There is no known specific disease or condition that can be pinpointed as the main source because there are so many conditions that can affect how lungs function.
Those people who develop pulmonary fibrosis without an identifiable cause are said to have idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Unfortunately for these patient, this type of fibrosis does not respond to medical therapy.
It is also know by other names: chronic interstitial pneumonitis, Hamman-Rich Syndrome, and diffuse fibrosing alveolitis.
According to The Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, 5 million people worldwide suffer from this disease, with over 500,000 of those within the continental United States.