The first symptom of pulmonary fibrosis is often a chronic, dry cough. As the disease inevitably progresses, you’ll start to notice shortness of breath. At the earliest sign of a lung problem, it’s important to schedule an appointment with Walter J. Willoughby, Jr., MD, so that you can get an accurate diagnosis and start treatment that supports your optimal health. If you have questions about your symptoms, call the office in Las Vegas or book an appointment online.
Pulmonary fibrosis is a condition in which tissues in your lungs become scarred. As the scarring progressively worsens, the affected areas become thick and stiff. These changes make it hard for your lungs to work, which in turn makes it difficult for you to breathe. It also means that your body is deprived of the oxygen it needs.
Medical experts have identified genetic variations that increase your risk for pulmonary fibrosis. If you have a genetic variation, you’re more susceptible to environmental factors that can damage your lungs and lead to pulmonary fibrosis, such as smoking and exposure to wood and metal dust.
Pulmonary fibrosis may also be caused by viral infections, pneumonia, and autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. Patients who have gastroesophageal reflux disease may breathe small drops of stomach acid into their lungs, which could lead to fibrosis.
In many patients, the cause can’t be identified. When that happens, the condition is called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). IPF is the most common type of pulmonary fibrosis.
The symptoms of pulmonary fibrosis are similar to a variety of lung diseases, many of which progressively worsen over the years. If you have any of these symptoms, schedule an appointment call, Dr. Willoughby:
Pulmonary fibrosis may cause another symptom, called clubbing, in which the tips of your fingers or toes widen and become round.
After evaluating your medical history and performing an exam, Dr. Willoughby may order diagnostic imaging and perform lung function tests. Pulmonary tests are done in the office using advanced equipment, so Dr. Willoughby can quickly assess the health of your lungs.
After diagnosing your condition, he works with you to develop an individualized treatment plan that may include one or more of the following:
Several medications are available to reduce inflammation, help prevent lung damage, and suppress your immune system, if needed.
Oxygen therapy boosts blood oxygen and helps reduce shortness of breath.
Pulmonary rehabilitation may include breathing techniques, exercises, nutritional counseling, and other strategies that help you breathe better and stay healthy.
If you develop symptoms such as shortness of breath or coughing, schedule an appointment online or call Walter J. Willoughby, Jr., MD.