Pulmonary fibrosis is a condition that occurs when lung tissue becomes damaged and scarred, which keeps the body from getting enough oxygen. Increased scarring makes breathing difficult and affects the heart. The word “pulmonary” means “lung”, and “fibrosis” refers to “scar tissue” that has replaced healthy tissue. Inflammation, or swelling, in the lungs usually happens before or at the same time as the formation of scar tissues.

What Causes Pulmonary Fibrosis?

The causes of pulmonary fibrosis can be divided into five categories: autoimmune diseases, genetics/unknown, occupational, environmental and drug induced/medication exposures. Because physicians do not typically conduct a work history examination of patients who develop pulmonary fibrosis, many times the cause may never be known to a pulmonary fibrosis patient.

Who is at Risk for Pulmonary Fibrosis?

People with a greater likelihood of being diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis are males between the ages of 40 and 70, who have a history of smoking, have undergone cancer treatments, particularly chest radiation, and/or who work in an occupation associated with increased risk, such as mining, farming, or construction.

What are the Symptoms of Pulmonary Fibrosis?

Although shortness of breath is typically the first symptom, a person can have pulmonary fibrosis for some time without any symptoms. And, because the condition generally affects older people, symptoms, especially shortness of breath, are usually attributed to age or lack of exercise.
Pulmonary fibrosis affects the lungs, and its symptoms include abnormal lung sounds, such as crackling, aching joints and muscles, a chronic/dry/hacking cough, clubbing where fingernails appear curved, frequent shortness of breath, and sudden weight loss.

How can Pulmonary Fibrosis be Prevented?

The best way to prevent pulmonary fibrosis is to avoid smoking and secondhand smoke and thus limit exposure to harmful chemicals. In addition, factory workers, or those at increased risk, should wear proper breathing devices, such as masks, to limit exposure or organic and inorganic dusts. If you or a loved one suffers from pulmonary fibrosis and wish to seek help in determining whether toxic exposures may be the cause, please contact the Madeksho Law Firm, PLLC.