Pulmonary Fibrosis and Palliative Care

What is Pulmonary Fibrosis?

Pulmonary fibrosis is a disease of the lungs. The name means “lung scar,” which describes what happens to people who have it. The more the lungs get scarred, the harder it is for them to work properly. This leads to difficulty breathing. Doctors do not know what causes it.

Understanding Palliative Care

Palliative (pronounced “pal-lee-uh-tiv”) care is specialized medical care for people with serious illness. The goal of palliative care is to improve quality of life for both the patient and the family. It does this by providing relief from the symptoms and stress of a serious illness like pulmonary fibrosis.

Palliative care is provided by a team of palliative care specialists including doctors, nurses and social workers. The team works together with your other doctors to provide an extra layer of support. It is appropriate at any age and at any stage in a serious illness. Palliative care works hand-in-hand with curative treatment.

Treatment and Symptoms of Pulmonary Fibrosis – How Palliative Care Can Help

Common symptoms of pulmonary fibrosis can include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • A dry or chronic cough
  • Fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Aching muscles or joints

While living with pulmonary fibrosis can be a major challenge, palliative care can make a big difference. Some palliative care treatments for pulmonary fibrosis include medications that relieve symptoms such as shortness of breath. Oxygen therapy can make breathing and sleep easier. Other medications and techniques can calm nervousness, relieve depression and manage pain.

Experiencing a diagnosis of pulmonary fibrosis can be very shocking, not only for you but also for your family. But palliative care specialists are experts in treating the symptoms of pulmonary fibrosis and the side effects of treatment. They can help you understand complex medical information, and they can help you match your treatment choices to your personal needs and goals.

It is important to remember that your palliative care team is 100 percent there for you. You and your family can look to your palliative care team for guidance on any and all tough medical questions and important decisions that lie ahead.

How to Get Palliative Care

If you or a loved one is facing pulmonary fibrosis, ask your doctor for a referral to palliative care—the earlier the better. You can receive palliative care in the hospital, at an outpatient clinic and sometimes at home.

Although living with pulmonary fibrosis is a difficult journey, palliative care can ease your burden and help you achieve the best possible quality of life. For more information, explore GetPalliativeCare.org. Take the quiz to find out if palliative care is right for you. And find providers in your area by visiting the Palliative Care Provider Directory.