Health

Heavy breathing warns of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis – VnExpress


Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis causes the tissues in the lungs to become stiff and fibrous, affecting the airways and pulmonary vascular system, making it difficult to breathe.

According to Prof. TS.BS Ngo Quy Chau, Head of the Department of Respiratory Internal Medicine, Tam Anh General Hospital, Hanoi, in Vietnam, most patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis are found in people 50-70 years old, rarely in people with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. under the age of 50. The disease occurs more often in men than in women, sometimes in family members. Many experts believe that certain genes may be the cause of pulmonary fibrosis.

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is a chronic disease of the lungs, the cause of which is unknown. Some theories suggest that the disease is caused by inflammation of the alveoli, leading to the formation of scar tissue (fibrosis) in the lungs. Therefore, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is also known as idiopathic alveolar fibrosis.

Professor Chau said that up to now, studies have shown that idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis causes damage to the cells lining the alveoli. These cells try to repair the damage, but the repair process gets out of control, causing the alveoli to become thicker. The alveolar and interstitial lung tissue fibrosis reduces the amount of oxygen passing through the alveolar wall into the blood vessels, causing severe hypoxia for a long time, the patient’s cough, fatigue and shortness of breath become progressively worse.

Air pollution is one of the causes of pulmonary fibrosis. Photo: Shutterstock.

Cause of disease

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is also known as primary pulmonary fibrosis, or idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis to distinguish it from secondary pulmonary fibrosis that occurs due to pre-existing lung lesions such as tuberculosis, pulmonary infarction, pneumonia… Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is a condition of unknown cause. However, Professor Chau shared, studies show that a few risk factors can trigger damage to the cells lining the lung alveoli.

The disease is common in smokers or former smokers. Some viruses such as Epstein-Barr, hepatitis C virus can be the causative agent. If gastroesophageal reflux disease is not treated early and properly, gastric juice can back up into the esophagus and unconsciously inhaled into the lungs, which can also increase the risk of pulmonary fibrosis.

In addition, a polluted living and working environment, frequent exposure or exposure to wood dust, metal dust or chemicals also increases the risk of disease. Some drugs such as methotrexate, cyclophosphamide, azathioprine… can cause side effects affecting the lungs. Some cases of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis may be hereditary.

Many studies show that pulmonary fibrosis can be caused by a number of inherited genes.  Photo: Shutterstock.

Many studies show that pulmonary fibrosis can be caused by a number of inherited genes. Photo: Shutterstock.

Common symptoms

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis causes scarring and hardening of the lungs. If not detected early and treated promptly, the scars in the lungs are affected more seriously. Professor Chau noted some common symptoms in patients with pulmonary fibrosis. In particular, dyspnea is a condition that occurs because the amount of oxygen in the blood decreases gradually as the disease progresses. Many patients mistakenly think that it is a manifestation of old age, neglecting to visit the doctor, leading to dangerous development, the patient becomes increasingly difficult to breathe. Dry cough, or cough with phlegm; Fatigue and unexplained weight loss are also symptoms of the disease. In addition, “club fingers or toes are symptoms that can be seen in cases of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis,” Professor Chau said. This is a swelling at the base of the fingernails and toenails but is painless and is also common in people with heart, lung and other diseases.

Professor also added that, depending on the stage of disease progression, the symptoms of the disease can be different. It is possible that the symptoms of the disease go away quickly during a flare, then go into remission during the steady state; The disease may get worse and not recover. Intervention methods at this time cannot prevent scarring and damage to the lungs, causing dangerous complications such as heart failure, pulmonary embolism, pulmonary hypertension…

Clubbing occurs in about 50% of patients with pulmonary fibrosis.  Photo: Shutterstock.

Clubbing occurs in about 50% of patients with pulmonary fibrosis. Photo: Shutterstock.

Treatments

According to Professor Ngo Quy Chau, there is currently no cure for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. The main interventions are to control and minimize disease symptoms, make patients more comfortable, prolong life, and improve quality of life, including quitting smoking, using drugs, exercising. physical therapy, vaccination against infectious diseases.

Lung transplantation is a major surgery that requires lifelong treatment with immunosuppressive drugs to prevent rejection of the transplanted lung. However, not all patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis can perform this method. Patients need to follow the treatment regimen prescribed by the doctor to get the most effective treatment.

In addition, treatment with drugs or other therapies may cause some side effects in patients, so caution may be needed in older patients with mild symptoms. However, patients still need to be examined and monitored regularly to avoid serious disease progression and dangerous complications.

The Department of Respiratory Internal Medicine, Tam Anh General Hospital gathers a team of leading experts and doctors.  Photo: Tam Anh General Hospital.

The Department of Respiratory Internal Medicine, Tam Anh General Hospital gathers a team of leading experts and doctors. Photo: Tam Anh General Hospital.

Precautions

Professor Chau recommends that, in order to prevent unpleasant symptoms and dangerous complications of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, patients can apply the following measures: give up the habit of smoking; implement a scientific diet, full of nutrients for a healthy body; exercise, play sports to improve health; Vaccinations are fully vaccinated to prevent lung diseases, and avoid serious illnesses when lung diseases are present; Perform regular check-ups according to the treatment plan of the doctor.

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis can be controlled with early detection and prompt treatment. When having the above symptoms, the patient should immediately go to a specialized medical facility with modern machinery to assist in detecting and accurately diagnosing the disease condition, thereby providing appropriate treatment and treatment. the most effective.

Thuy Nguyen

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