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Pulmonary Fibrosis

Plueral effusion and bibasilar atelestasis

01/30/2009

Question:

Could this condition shown on a CT scan be s symptom of acid reflux or LPR that has been present for a few years?

I also have difficult swallowing, shortness of breath, rash around throat after showering, and throat gurgles at night when trying to sleep. Thank you.

Answer:

Chronic aspiration (food or liquids going "down the wrong way") can cause scarring or fibrosis in the lung. Also, acid reflux alone is associated with a more rapid worsening of fibrosis in patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis; it is not clear if the reflux is the cause of the worsening or whether worsening pulmonary fibrosis causes reflux, however.

Aspiration is generally diagnosed with a modified barium swallow study, usually in conjunction with a speech therapist. Acid reflux can be diagnosed several ways:
    (1) by endoscopy (a scope study of the esophagus)
    (2) a 24-hour pH probe study
    (3) an upper GI x-ray study, or
    (4) by a trial of acid blocker medications, called proton pump inhibitors.

Because many of the diseases that can cause scarring in the lungs can be serious, it is important to speak with your physician about what he/she believes the cause is and what the diagnosis is. Many times, additional testing is required to determine the correct diagnosis.

For more information:

Go to the Pulmonary Fibrosis health topic, where you can:

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