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Pulmonary Fibrosis

Pulmonary fibrosis

06/26/2006

Question:

My father is 65 years old and has pul fib. His first symptoms started 4 years ago. He has been on oxygen for 2 years and 8 steroids a day plus endoxana. He is currently in hospital with a super imposed infection on his left lung. His oxygen has been increased to 4 litres 24 hours per day. He is being treated with intravenous steroids and anti biotics. His ox levels have increased when he is sitting or lying with the oxygen mask on but decrese rapidly on an movement. They dropped as low as 76 yesterday. Can you tell me is this a sigh that he is entering the final stages. Should I take him home to live with me as he is living on his own up until now.

Answer:

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is usually a fatal disease. The life expectancy after diagnosis is usually 3-5 years, but this can vary quite a bit. As the disease worsens, shortness of breath and hypoxemia (low oxygen levels) become more severe. It is important to make sure that there is no other cause of the hypoxemia, and you should ask the doctors whether on-going infection and pulmonary embolus (blood clots) have been reasonably excluded.

A physical therapist and/or occupational therapist can often help determine the patient's post-hospital needs as far as whether they can continue to live independently or whether they should move in with a family member or move into an extended care facility.

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Response by:

James N Allen, Jr, MD James N Allen, Jr, MD
Clinical Professor of Pulmonary, Allergy, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University