As of 2015, doctors have not found a cure for pulmonary fibrosis, states WebMD. In the majority of cases, doctors cannot determine the cause of the disease, and treatment is focused on slowing the spread of lung damage and helping patients maintain comfortable breathing.
Pulmonary fibrosis is progressive lung damage from scarred, thickened tissue, explains Mayo Clinic. The damaged tissue gradually limits oxygen circulation throughout the bloodstream and interferes with lung function, causing shortness of breath and coughing. Many individuals also develop muscle and joint pain, fatigue and unexplained weight loss. Doctors believe diseases such as sarcoidosis and tuberculosis or ongoing exposure to radiation and toxins, such as asbestos, are some causes of pulmonary fibrosis.
Treatment for pulmonary fibrosis depends on the severity of breathing impairment and lung damage, according to WebMD. Doctors may prescribe medications that slow tissue scarring, such as pirfenidone, or recommend using an oxygen mask to help patients maintain active lifestyles. For patients with manageable symptoms, physicians emphasize pulmonary rehabilitation, which involves techniques for fostering a nutritious, low-stress lifestyle. In the most severe cases, doctors may approve patients for a lung transplant waiting list, but even after a successful surgery, patients depend on physical therapy, medication and monitoring for the remainder of their lives.