Have you woken up in the night gasping for breath? Those would have been easily the scariest moments of your life. Imagine feeling that for extended periods. That’s what happens when you have pulmonary diseases, or in simple terms, lung issues.
Lungs play a role in the supply of oxygen to the blood, and to the entire body. But what if there’s a struggle while you breathe? What if there’s an obstruction while you’re breathing? Or what if there’s an unnoticed injury to your lungs?
Then, it might not be as simple as ‘breathing issues’. It could be something else. Before we get there, here are a few questions for you:
Do you experience episodes of shortness in breath?
Is your cough dry and painful?
Are you very tired?
Are you losing weight drastically without any reason?
Are the tips of our fingers and toes widening?
If you have said a yes to one or many or all of these questions, then you might be suffering from Pulmonary Fibrosis.
Pulmonary Fibrosis: An introduction
“Pulmonary” refers to lungs, and “fibrosis” means scar tissue. This is similar to scars on your skin from an old injury or surgery. So in short, pulmonary fibrosis means scarring in the lungs. The tissue gets thick and stiff, making it difficult for you to catch your breath, depriving your blood of enough oxygen.
Pulmonary fibrosis can be more serious than just having a scar in your lung. The scar tissue builds up in the walls of the air passages of the lungs and eventually obstructs oxygen to get into your blood. This results in low oxygen levels making you feel short of breath, especially while walking and exercising.
Another doubt that most of you might have is, pulmonary fibrosis is a single disease. But it isn’t. It is a family of more than 200 lung disorders which look very much alike. The pulmonary fibrosis family of lung diseases falls under an even more significant group of lung disorders called the “interstitial lung diseases.” Some of these interstitial lung diseases don’t include scar tissues. A pulmonary fibrosis occurs when an interstitial lung disease includes scar tissue in the lung.
Diagnosing pulmonary fibrosis
It is essential to determine the type of pulmonary fibrosis you have, different types of PF disorders may behave differently regarding how quickly your disease progresses, and how your response is, to the treatments your medical professional recommends for you.
To diagnose the type of pulmonary fibrosis you have, doctors from a variety of specialities, including pulmonologists, radiologists, rheumatologists, and pathologists work together. All their findings are put together to get an accurate diagnosis. You will need to get a variety of tests done for the diagnosis.
Below are some of the tests which most medical professionals recommend for the diagnosis of pulmonary fibrosis.
Diagnostic tests for pulmonary fibrosis
Comprehensive medical history
Your doctor must obtain a detailed medical history to learn if any environmental/occupational exposures, medications, familial, or medical conditions could be the cause of pulmonary fibrosis in you.
It is important to undergo an in-depth physical examination. Scar tissue is heard as crackling sounds when your pulmonologist listens to your lungs with a stethoscope. Your doctor may also check for signs of other medical conditions that could contribute to pulmonary fibrosis development.
You might be asked to get a series of blood tests to check if your immune system strong or weak.
Pulmonary Function Tests
Pulmonary Function Tests are done to measure the size of your lungs. These tests also measure the movement of air in and out of your lungs, and how well oxygenated your lungs are.
Bronchoscopy is a testing procedure done to collect samples of cells and small biopsies from your lungs. The equipment used for this procedure is called a bronchoscope.
Exercise testing is done to measure how your lungs function during exertion. Test methods usually vary from hospital to hospital but include a stationary bike or a treadmill. The method of exercise testing is a six-minute walk test. Blood pressure, electrocardiogram, and oxygen saturation levels are monitored during this test.
This test uses sound waves (ECHO) to create a picture of your heart. It checks your heart rate through the echocardiogram machine.
Surgical Lung Biopsy
In some cases, a biopsy of the lungs is taken to carry out a diagnosis of pulmonary fibrosis. A biopsy is usually considered only after an extensive evaluation.
So if you have been diagnosed a pulmonary fibrosis, you have nothing to worry about. All you need to know is, read up necessary information, and speak to our pulmonologist about your condition.
About the hospital: Sai Sanjeevini Multi Speciality Hospitals, a unit of Singapanga Healthcare Pvt. Ltd has been providing health services to the people in need for the last 14 years. This health care organisation combines practical, proven research, cutting edge procedures and state-of-the-art treatment to produce excellent medical and lifestyle outcome for our patients. Our hospital and medical staff provide innovative medical care in a friendly, compassionate, community environment conducive to patient recuperation in a family atmosphere.