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Pulmonary Fibrosis
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Pulmonary Fibrosis

I had a chest xray done in in 2004 as part of a general physical and it was clear.  Three years later, as a result of a 9 week battle with the worst case of Bronchitis I ever had, I asked for another chest xray because I was worried about all the coughing, wheezing to the point of throwing up.  Also, I had worked for two days (as this bronchitis was just developing) putting in drywall (walls and ceiling) in a friend's basement.  I was stupid and used no mask ( and this was fire resistant treated drywall).  I know I inhaled a bunch of that dust.  The xray revealed what looked to be scarring in my lungs, and a follow up CAT scan confirmed that.  I also had a bronchoscopy done by a pulmonologist who saw no active lesions in my lungs, but he did see evidence of the bronchitis and pulled up some substance which could have been that drywall dust.   The coughing ceased soon after the bronchoscopy and I had a follow up CAT scan done three months later.  There was no change from the first scan.  I then had another CAT scan done six months later, which also revealed no change.   About 15 months after that, I had another CAT scan which my pulmonologist said shows some "mild" progression of the scarring.  
The odd thing is that I really have no symptoms.  I can run 3-4 miles straight on a tread mill.  I do have a very mild and intermittant dry cough, which I consider no big deal.  The CAT scan shows the lower half of both lungs with scarring.  I am 58 years old.
My current pulmonologist has recommended nothing, nor can offer me any more insight into a prognosis.  I could get Perfenidone if I was diagnosed with IPF (I don't want that diagnosis).   I wish I had more insight into what I do have and why this is progressing at all.  I'm going in for a 2nd opinion with a different pulmonologist in two weeks.  
Do you think I should ask for a lung biopsy?  This whole scarring thing has shaken me very deeply.  
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You have made a very wise choice in getting a second opinion. If one doctor cannot provide answers, then it is best to dump that doctor and seek another opinion. I cannot really say what you have. But, my mother had idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Idiopathic means cause unknown. And many times, doctors cannot tell a patient, what caused the pulmonary fibrosis. My mother had a lung biopsy. Even with the lung biopsy, doctors could not determine, just what had caused her lung disease. She had worked around metal dust for 15 yrs. They could not determine, if that caused her pulmonary fibrosis. According to my research, many things could possibly cause pulmonary fibrosis. But, ask this new pulmonologist all the questions that you can. If he cannot provide answers, then seek another doctor. From 2001 to 2004, my mother kept getting misdiagnosed. Doctors said she had asthma. Even possible heart problems. And all the time, it was IPF. I myself was diagnosed with the lung disease COPD in late 2007. So, I do understand your great concern. But mainly, asking questions and finding the right doctor, is what I suggest at this point. Not enough is known about lung diseases like IPF and COPD. Simply because there is not enough funding into research. Which needs to greatly change within our system. I am truly wishing you the best. When my family doctor diagnosed me with COPD, I did get a second opinion myself. My family doctor even confirmed the  COPD with tests. But, I still wanted that second opinion with a pulmonologist. I am truly wishing you the best outcome. Please post what this new pulmonologist has to say about your condition.
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I have a similar history, with scarring, fibrosis, unknown origin, etc. Just today was told I have mycobacterium in my sputum (chelonae or abscessus) and that I need a year of antibiotics.  Could this be relevant to your situation? Did you have sputum testing as well?
L.
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My mother had the same complaint as yours.  She too had worked in a clothing/shirt factory for over 20 years and it possible that she could have developed something from the dust and fabric; however, shortly after she was diagnosed I did some research and contacted the American Lung Association about her condition.  There is currently no cure.  She had seen several doctors and finally underwent a Lung Biopsy which is what we were told a sure way to detect and give a diagnosis as Pulmonary Fibrosis.  She had the lung biopsy and the diagnosis was confirmed, the drug of choice was steroids; however, because she was diabetic they had to use other medication which was experimental type of drugs.  My mother was diagnosed in December 2004 and passed away in February 2007.  Have the biopsy done and seek your own research from the American Lung Association. We were told that it was a debilitating disease and expected a longer life span, if you're healthy enough transplant is an option, but don't wait too long like my mother did.  I had to beg her to get up and go seek medical attention.  She just thought she had a cold or bronchitis and would get better.  She went when one day she was too weak and faint and was diagnosed with Pneumonia, it looked like pneumonia on her x-rays.  This condition is rare and often misdiagnosed.  Please seek into the biopsy and go from there.  Best of Luck,
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