Treatment

The lung scarring that occurs in pulmonary fibrosis can't be reversed, and no current treatment has proved effective in stopping progression of the disease. Some treatments may improve symptoms temporarily or slow the disease's progression. Others may help improve quality of life. Doctors will evaluate the severity of your condition to determine the most appropriate treatment for your condition.

Medications

Your doctor may recommend newer medications, including pirfenidone (Esbriet) and nintedanib (Ofev). These medications may help slow the progression of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Both medications have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Additional medications and new formulations of these medications are being developed but have not yet been FDA approved.

Nintedanib can cause side effects such as diarrhea and nausea. Side effects of pirfenidone include rash, nausea and diarrhea.

Researchers continue to study medications to treat pulmonary fibrosis.

Doctors may recommend anti-acid medications to treat gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a digestive condition that commonly occurs in people with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

Oxygen therapy

Using oxygen can't stop lung damage, but it can:

  • Make breathing and exercise easier
  • Prevent or lessen complications from low blood oxygen levels
  • Reduce blood pressure in the right side of your heart
  • Improve your sleep and sense of well-being

You may receive oxygen when you sleep or exercise, although some people may use it all the time. Some people carry a canister of oxygen, making them more mobile.

Pulmonary rehabilitation

Pulmonary rehabilitation can help you manage your symptoms and improve your daily functioning. Pulmonary rehabilitation programs focus on:

  • Physical exercise to improve your endurance
  • Breathing techniques that may improve lung efficiency
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Counseling and support
  • Education about your condition

Lung transplant

Lung transplantation may be an option for people with pulmonary fibrosis. Having a lung transplant can improve your quality of life and allow you to live a longer life. However, a lung transplant can involve complications such as rejection and infection. Your doctor may discuss with you if a lung transplant may be appropriate for your condition.