September is Pulmonary Fibrosis Awareness Month. It’s a good time to familiarize yourself with the symptoms, treatments, and care needs. While pulmonary fibrosis affects all ages, the median age for diagnosis of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is 66.
What is Pulmonary Fibrosis?
Pulmonary fibrosis occurs when the lung tissue becomes scarred. This leads to coughing, breathing issues, and problems withstanding exercise and daily activities.
Types of Pulmonary Fibrosis
Familial pulmonary fibrosis is a form where genetics lead to the disease. It’s not common. The U.S. National Library of Health published a report that followed two families where multiple family members were diagnosed with the disease. This study located about 100 families where the disease seemed to be hereditary.
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis doesn’t have a known cause. It’s the more common form of pulmonary fibrosis. It can be caused by exposure to asbestos, coal dust, and mold. Rheumatoid arthritis, systemic scleroderma, sarcoidosis, and some forms of pneumonia can also lead to the lung disease.
Pulmonary fibrosis is progressive and has no cure. If caught early, corticosteroids can help suppress immune function and slow the progression when the disease is caused by something like rheumatoid arthritis or scleroderma. Most people diagnosed with the disease have a five-year life expectancy. Lung transplants are often the only choice.
How Can You Help Your Parent?
Moderate to strenuous activities will challenge your aging parent. Taking a walk will leave your mom or dad struggling to catch a breath. Keeping up with vacuuming, dusting, mopping, and dishes can be hard.
You also need to think about air quality. If your family home has a lot of dust or pollen spores, keeping windows closed and an air purifier running all day is important. In the heat of summer, air conditioning is a must for making sure your parent doesn’t overheat. Make sure furnace filters are replaced frequently to keep dust to a minimum.
If your mom or dad is diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, the doctor may recommend a prescription medication to slow the disease’s progression. If medication is recommended, common side effects are diarrhea and nausea. Oxygen therapy may also be recommended.
With these treatment plans, your mom or dad will struggle with many activities. Have a home care provider available to help your parent with laundry and light housework. You may also need to arrange medication reminders.
If you or an aging loved one are considering senior care in Cranford, NJ, please contact the caring staff at Care Street Home Care of New Brunswick today. Call (732) 607-8870.
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