In order to diagnose IPF, a healthcare provider will ask a number of questions, perform a physical exam, and recommend certain tests. Some of these tests may allow your healthcare provider to obtain a sample of lung tissue that is examined under a microscope.
Looking at samples of tissue from several places in your lungs under a microscope is the best way for your healthcare provider to diagnose IPF. Video-assisted thoracoscopy is typically the procedure that healthcare providers will use to collect the tissue. Your healthcare provider inserts a small, lighted tube with a camera (endoscope) into your chest through small incisions between your ribs. The endoscope provides a video image of the lungs and allows your healthcare provider to collect tissue samples. This procedure must be done in the hospital under general anesthesia.
Today, research scientists are beginning to better understand what causes idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, and they can diagnose it more quickly. They are also studying several medicines that may slow down the progress of the disease. These efforts should lead to longer and better-quality lives for people with IPF.
Treatment for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis cannot remove scarring that has already happened. Therefore, diagnosing and treating IPF as early as possible, before a lot of scarring has occurred, is important.
The main treatment for IPF is medication, such as prednisone, to reduce inflammation. Many healthcare providers also add a drug to suppress the body's immune system. These treatments can prevent further scarring and increase survival time in some people, but they don't work for everyone.
Healthcare providers may also recommend oxygen therapy, pulmonary rehabilitations, and/or lung transplantation.
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