August 6th , 2012
Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis
My father was diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis about 5 years ago. Because of this reason alone, I wanted to do my research project on this specific condition. Within my research, I have found that Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis is a progressive, fatal disorder of the lungs that causes them to become thick and stiff. I have learned about all the different causes, signs and symptoms and different tests that one must go through to actually get diagnosed. Once one is diagnosed with this disease, the prognosis it very simply, it will become fatal. After the diagnoses, the patient will go through many different psychosocial challenges that I have explained as well. If family and friends are not helpful enough through the process of learning how to deal with this disease and help with the patient’s quality of life, there are different organizations that offer support groups and activities nationwide. Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) is a specific form of progressive, fibrosing interstitial pneumonia of unknown etiology, occurring most frequently in older men, and confined to the lungs” (Leslie, 2011). Over a period of time, this condition causes the lung tissue to thicken, stiff, and scar. “The development of the scar tissue is called fibrosis. As the lung tissue becomes scarred and thicker, the lungs lose their ability to transfer oxygen into the bloodstream. As a result, the brain and other organs don't get the oxygen they need” (Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, 2012). The term “idiopathic’ is used when there is no known cause for the fibrosis. When doing research on IPF, I became a bit confused on the difference between IPF and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). It seemed to me that a lot of the symptoms were the same, and therefore the diseases were also the same, however I was incorrect. If a person cannot exhale completely due to a narrow or blocked airway in the lungs, the medical disorder is called “obstructive”. COPD symptoms include a chronic cough, heavy mucus production, and chest tightness. Now, “when a person’s lungs lose the ability to expand during inhalation (which occurs when tissue in the lungs is lost or cells stiffen from environmental factors) the condition is referred to as “restrictive.” Restrictive lung diseases cover pulmonary fibrosis , pneumonia, and lung cancer. Unlike COPD, mucus isn’t a part of pulmonary fibrosis symptoms but a dry cough (which can become debilitating), shortness of breath, and fatigue are common symptoms of this restrictive lung disease” (“Difference Between PF and COPD”, 2011). Therefore, IPF is considered to be a ‘restrictive pulmonary condition’. “Restrictive pulmonary conditions prevent affected individuals from receiving an adequate supply of air; that is, the volume of air is diminished during inspiration” (Falvo, 2009). Conditions that may cause restrictive pulmonary conditions are skeletal problems, nervous system conditions and even obesity. Currently, there are no known causes that give one IPF; all we currently know is that it causes the lungs to become scarred and stiffened. “The condition is believed to be due to an inflammatory response to an unknown substance or injury” (PubMedHealth, 2012). Certain environmental or occupational exposures seem to be recurrent among those who are diagnosed with IPF, and therefore the hypothesis is that these exposures can trigger IPF. Some of these exposures are: cigarette smoke, exposure to contaminants or dust, viral or bacterial lung infections, certain medications such as antibiotics, antiarrythmics, anticonvulsants, chemotherapeutic agents, therapeutic agents and acid reflux disease. Also, IPF may be associated with upper respiratory infections such as pneumonia and tuberculosis, however there connection still remains unknown (Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, 2012). Currently, research is linking clinical evidence...
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