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Pulmonary Fibrosis

Pulmonary fibrosis

04/09/2009

Question:

my gran has idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis she doesnt want to discuss her condition which makes it hard for me to help she is on oxygen 24/7 and is on 15litres even when resting she on various medication including morphine which she has just recently gone on to, now she has very bad swelling on her feet which came on more or less overnight she feels that she hasnt got long left to live can you give me more information on this condition and what i can do to help her

Answer:

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis causes scar to build up in the lungs. It is not curable except by lung transplant and eventually causes death. As it gets worse, the oxygen level falls and patients need increasing amounts of supplemental oxygen to help them breath.

Fifteen liters is about the maximum amount of oxygen that can be delivered and usually indicates that the pulmonary fibrosis is extremely advanced with death close at hand. Morphine is often used in conjunction with hospice care because morphine can reduce the sensation of shortness of breath in patients dying of pulmonary fibrosis. The swelling of the feet and ankles is usually due to a falling blood oxygen level but can sometimes be seen if patients have a second condition (such as heart failure, pulmonary hypertension, or blood clots).

One thing a family member can do to help is to speak with the hospice team or the patient's physician to find out what additional things can be done to provide comfort. Realize, however, that the patient (or his/her legal guardian) must give permission for any medical information to be communicated from the physician to others, including family members.

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