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Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis – Four Questions You Should Ask Your Doctor

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Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), is a chronic and progressive disease of the lung where the lung tissues thicken, stiffen and scar without a definitive cause.

If you have been diagnosed with this condition, you may wish to ask your physician the following four questions:

1. Besides the shortness of breath and dry cough, what other symptoms am I likely to experience with this condition?
You could experience any or a combination of any of the following symptoms:

• Labored breathing
• Easy fatigue
• Occasional chest pain
• Rasping sounds heard from the lungs through a stethoscope, while breathing
• Weight loss
• Pulmonary hypertension
• Cyanosis (bluish skin color due to deficient oxygen levels in blood)
• Clubbing of fingers

2. Are there other conditions with similar symptoms that I may be having?
Yes. There are other lung conditions that have overlapping symptoms. Thus, a differential diagnosis needs to be made while detecting IPF. Other conditions with similar symptoms are:
• Asbestosis
• Bacterial, fungal or viral pneumonia
• Aspiration pneumonia
• Silicosis
• Pneumococcal infections
• Farmer’s lung
• Eosinophillic pneumonia
• Drug induced pulmonary toxicity
• Restrictive lung disease
• Cardiogenic, neurogenic pulmonary edema
• Lung cancer
• Recurrent intra-alveolar hemorrhage

3. What tests will confirm IPF?
As with other lung conditions, diagnosis is made by running a combination of tests to correctly ascertain the disease and extent of damage, prognosis and line of treatment to be followed. Some diagnostic tests are outlined below:
• Differential diagnosis
• Transbronchial lung biopsy
• Pulmonary function test
• Chest X-ray to view the grid-like pattern in the lower lobes of the lung
• CAT scan to show bibasilar reticular abnormalities with minimal ground glass, honeycombing/ bronchiectasis
• Measurement of blood oxygen level, hemoglobin and leukocyte values
• Tests for connective tissue diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or scleroderma
• Broncho-alveolar lavage

4. Is IPF infectious?
No. IPF occurs when the homeostasis of the alveolar epithelial cells is disturbed by some external or endogenous stimuli. The factors could be things like cigarette smoking, infections, environmental pollutants, gastro-esophageal reflux disease, drugs, or any other unknown cause. The disruption of homeostasis then causes overproduction of collagen and fibronectin. Eventually as the cause of the fibrosis continues to be present, abnormal epithelial healing sets the stage for progressive fibrosis and architectural distortion of the lung sets in.


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. She is a certified fitness instructor, personal trainer & sports nutritionist through IFA, Florida USA. Mamta is an NCFE-certified Holistic Health Therapist SAC Dip U.K. She is the lead writer and holds Expert Author status in many well-received health, fitness and nutrition sites. She runs her own popular blogs on migraines in women and holistic health. Mamta holds a double Master's Degree in Commerce and Business. She is a registered practitioner with the UN recognised Art of Living Foundation. Link: http://www.migrainingjenny.wordpress.com and http://www.footstrike.wordpress.com

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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