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Pulmonary Fibrosis

Upper respiratory infection with PF

03/30/2009

Question:

My 85 year old mother was diagnosed with Pul. Fibrosis about 3 years ago. She was doing ok without being on oxygen treatment until a few days ago when she was hospitalized with an upper respiratory infection and was having difficulty breathing. She was in the hopital for 2 days with an i.v. antibiotic and was sent home. When she got home she was doing o.k. until this morning (after 2 days in the hospital) she was having problems breathing. She is now on 2 liters of oxygen and has 2 more days of antibiotics. I am wondering if this is the beginning of "the end"? Her oxygen level was 90% at the time she left the hospital.

Answer:

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis has a life expectancy, on average, of 3 to 5 years from the time of diagnosis. However, this is an average and an individual patient can live considerably longer or shorter.

The disease often progresses in a "stair step" fashion; that is, patients may have a period of months or years that the disease is stable and then have a sudden flare when the disease worsens suddenly. It is important, however, to be sure that there is no other reason for these episodes of deterioration.

The three conditions that can also cause sudden deterioration are

When deterioration occurs over the course of a day or two, it is more likely to be one of these three complications than worsening of the idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

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