There's no cure for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) yet. Your symptoms may get worse over time. As your symptoms worsen, you may not be able to do many of the things that you did before you had IPF.
However, lifestyle changes and ongoing care can help you manage your condition.
If you're still smoking, the most important thing you can do is stop. Talk to your doctor about programs and products that can help you quit. Also, try to avoid secondhand smoke. Ask family members and friends not to smoke in front of you or in your home, car, or workplace.
Staying active can help with both your physical and mental health. Physical activity can help you maintain your strength and lung function and reduce stress. Try moderate exercise, such as walking or riding a stationary bike. Ask your doctor about using oxygen while exercising.
As your condition advances, use a wheelchair or motorized scooter, or stay busy with activities that aren't physical in nature.
You should also follow a healthy diet. A healthy diet includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
It also includes lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, and fat-free or low-fat milk or milk products. A healthy diet is low in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium (salt), and added sugar.
Eating smaller, more frequent meals may relieve stomach fullness, which can make it hard to breathe. If you need help with your diet, ask your doctor to arrange for a dietitian to work with you.
Getting plenty of rest can increase your energy and help you deal with the stress of living with a serious condition like IPF.
Maintain a positive attitude. Practicing relaxation techniques may help you do this. It also may help you avoid excessive oxygen intake caused by tension or overworked muscles.
Avoid situations that can make your symptoms worse, such as traveling by air or living at or traveling to high altitudes where the air is thin and the amount of oxygen in the air is low.
If you have IPF, you will need ongoing medical care. Treatment by a pulmonologist who specializes in IPF usually is recommended. These specialists often are located at major medical centers.
Treatment may relieve your symptoms and even slow or stop the fibrosis (scarring). Follow your treatment plan as your doctor advises. For example:
• Take your medicines as your doctor prescribes
• Make any changes in diet or exercise that your doctor recommends
• Keep all of your appointments with your doctor
• Enroll in pulmonary rehabilitation (rehab)
As your condition worsens, you may need oxygen therapy full time. Some people who have IPF carry portable oxygen when they go out.
Emotional Issues and Support
Living with IPF may cause fear, anxiety, depression, and stress. It's important to talk about how you feel with your health care team. Talking to a professional counselor also can help. If you're feeling very depressed, your health care team or counselor may prescribe medicines to make you feel better.
Joining a patient support group may help you adjust to living with IPF. You can see how other people who have the same sy...