Pulmonary fibrosis (interstitial lung disease)
Interstitial lung diseases develop as the result of chronic inflammations in which the connective tissue in the pulmonary alveoli is altered over time, until it is no longer available for the gas exchange. The most common interstitial lung disease is pulmonary fibrosis. It produces functional impairments in the lungs, accompanied by shortness of breath, coughing, and typical noises on inhalation.
The causes of pulmonary fibrosis are only partially known. For example, the inhalation of asbestos fibres that trigger inflammation over a long period of time can develop into pulmonary fibrosis. Rarely, the cause may also be allergic reactions to organic substances inhaled in high concentrations. For example, farmers may react to protein components in hay dust, and pigeon breeders may be triggered by pigeon droppings.
Among many patients, however, the cause is not fully explained and is denoted as a “pulmonary fibrosis of unknown origin”.
Depending on the possible correlation to the pulmonary fibrosis, the patient should first try changing their leisure pursuits and, if required, change jobs. Since this is often not enough, it is possible to delay scarring in the lungs through use of anti-fibrotic drugs. Therapy should thus be initiated as quickly as possible following diagnosis.
Since the training condition of the respiratory muscles decreases over time, targeted muscular and endurance training under professional instruction can help. The respiratory muscles can also be strengthened using respiratory / breathing trainers.