Palliative treatment options for people with pulmonary fibrosis are medications, oxygen therapy, physical exercise, efficient breathing techniques, nutritional counseling, and emotional counseling and support, according to Mayo Clinic. While no treatment cures or stops the disease from worsening, palliative care improves patients' quality of life.
Some medications slow the development of pulmonary fibrosis in certain patients, Mayo Clinic states. These include Prednisone, a corticosteroid, and immunity-suppressing drugs. However, these have not displayed long-term effects. Two other medications, pirfenidone and nintedanib, also show some success in slowing the progression of pulmonary fibrosis, reports WebMD.
Oxygen therapy offers several helpful effects. For instance, it helps counter low blood oxygen levels, which sometimes leads to heart failure, WebMD warns. Exercise and even simple breathing are less difficult with oxygen therapy, Mayo Clinic says. Patients typically sleep better, as well, which helps increase energy levels.
Physical exercises build endurance in pulmonary fibrosis patients, while breathing exercises help lungs work more efficiently, states Mayo Clinic. A healthy diet consumed over several small meals is useful, advises the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. The stomach does not become too full, which leads to difficulty breathing. Counseling reduces tension, suggests the Mayo Clinic. High levels of stress require additional oxygen.
In pulmonary fibrosis, lungs become scarred, which stiffens the tissue, the Mayo Clinic explains. The lungs are less flexible so they do not expand and contract well during breathing. The disease is sometimes caused by infections, drugs, environmental conditions or other diseases, says WebMD. However, most cases have no discernible cause.