Pulmonary Fibrosis NI Frequently Asked Questions.


Learn MoreFrequently Asked Questions.


You may have recently been diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis (PF), or maybe you're still awaiting a diagnosis. Either way, it's natural to have questions about this complex disease. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about PF that may help you better understand your condition.

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General FAQs

Check out our answers about general Pulmonary Fibrosis questions with answers specific to Northern Ireland
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Oxygen FAQs

Find out more about Oxygen use for patients with Pulmonary Fibrosis. All answers specific to Northern Ireland
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Diet & Benefits

Check out our answers about diet changes and what benefits are available to PF sufferers
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Frequently Asked QuestionsGeneral Questions.

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Pulmonary Fibrosis is a life limiting chronic and relatively rare progressive lung disease. The word “pulmonary” refers to the lungs and “fibrosis” means scarring of the lungs. Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) is the most common form of interstitial lung disease, “idiopathic” means that the cause is unknown. An early diagnosis of IPF is important so as treatment can commence as soon as possible. When visiting your family doctor/General Practitioner (GP), he or she may listen to your chest using a stethoscope, one of the signs of pulmonary fibrosis is a sound like Velcro being pulled apart. which will be picked up by the stethoscope. In lungs affected by pulmonary fibrosis, the soft, spongy, and elastic tissue is taken over with hard, thick scarred tissue. Consequently, this makes it hard for the lungs to expand when breathing in. Also, the fibrosis stops the normal movement of oxygen from the air sacs (which is called alveoli) in the lungs into the bloodstream, which causes more breathlessness. Some of the causes of pulmonary fibrosis are the inhalation of harmful materials such as metal/stone/wood dusts/particles or breathing in dust/air that has been contaminated with bacteria such as bird droppings. Medical conditions which affect the joints and body tissue of the body such as arthritis are known causes. There is approximately between 10 to 15% of patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis that have a hereditary variant/familial form of pulmonary fibrosis. Some websites report that patients diagnosed with PF can average 3-7 years survival after their diagnosis. However, that can be very misleading as some of the information is out of date, as there are treatments available to delay the progression of the disease. Furthermore, life expectancy varies from person to person, and it depends on many factors such as; age, treatment and the stage of the disease. Some of the symptoms of pulmonary fibrosis are breathlessness, dry cough, fatigue, and stomach acid reflux. (Gastro Esophagus Reflux Disease.) As cough is a significant issue with P.F, especially regarding covid, because it can make you feel isolated and embarrassed by the condition. It is useful to know some ways of managing cough. For example, lozenges menthol, honey and lemon, ice-cream, Exputex, mucodyne and cough suppressants such as codine linctus, morphine patch and oramorph can be useful. It would be necessary to discuss cough issues with your GP/respiratory consultant to select the most appropriate cough management for your specific condition.

Frequently Asked QuestionsUsing Oxygen.

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Yes, you can wear your oxygen. In fact, it is important that you do try to keep using your oxygen whenever possible. Simply put your oxygen supply line over the shower door.

Frequently Asked QuestionsDiet & Benefits.

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Yes, eating a healthy balanced diet will help keep you healthy and maintaining a healthy weight will make you feel better. Eat at least your 5 portions of fruit and vegetables each day. They do not have to be fresh canned or frozen are good. Do not include potatoes especially chips as your 5 a day. Choose low fat low sugar dairy products. Butter and ice cream are not recommended to be eaten every day. Protein is good. Try to eat more beans and pulses. Have two portions of fish a week, one an oily fish if you can – eat less red and processed meat. Select unsaturated oils and spreads and only in small amounts. We don’t need chocolate, sweets, cakes, and ice cream for a healthy diet but it’s nice to have an occasional treat; just make sure it is occasional. Exactly how much energy you need from your food depends on how active you are. However, on average women need about 2,000 calories a day, men need about 2,500.

Want to make a quick donation?

Every day, people across Northern Ireland are diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis. With no cure currently available, pulmonary fibrosis can have a profound impact not only on those living with the condition, but also on their families and carers. Pulmonary Fibrosis NI is working hard to support people affected by pulmonary fibrosis and to raise awareness of the condition. However, we need your help to continue our vital work. Please consider making a quick donation today. Every pound donated will make a difference to the lives of those affected by pulmonary fibrosis. Thank you.