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There are no FDA-approved medicines that treat IPF. However there is a good deal of research being performed and several clinical trials are underway to investigate potential treatments for IPF. These treatments are experimental and the impact they have on the course of IPF is currently being studied.
Despite the lack of medicines approved to treat IPF, there are still things you can do to help manage IPF symptoms and try to sustain your ability to perform daily activities for as long as possible.
The approaches used to manage the symptoms of IPF are designed to meet each patient’s unique needs. Every person’s medical history is different. In addition, people with IPF frequently suffer from other medical conditions. These other conditions may have an impact on the course of IPF (See "Managing other conditions" below.)
It’s also important to remember that each patient experiences IPF differently, and while some people with IPF don’t live long after getting their diagnosis, others may live longer than the often-quoted averages. Working together, you and your doctor can develop a plan to help you manage your symptoms in an effort to sustain your ability to participate in daily activities for as long as possible. Common approaches to managing IPF symptoms are listed below.
Summary of options for managing IPF symptoms
|Pulmonary Rehabilitation||Includes a range of conditioning and breathing exercises|
The goal is to help patients function to the best of their ability
|Oxygen Therapy||Recommended for patients who have low oxygen levels|
May help reduce breathlessness, enabling the patient to take part in pulmonary rehab exercises
|Lung Transplant||Can improve both life expectancy and ability to participate in daily activities|
Reserved for patients who have no other significant health problems, such as cancer; heart, liver, or kidney disease; or chronic infection, among others
IPF is now the leading reason for lung transplantation in the US
Lung transplantation has significant risks, including illness or fatality from the surgical procedure itself, infection, and cancer due to the use of drugs that suppress the immune system; you should discuss these risks with your doctor before considering a lung transplant
|Clinical Trials||Taking part in clinical trials may be an option for some people with IPF|
Talk with your healthcare team about your condition and your options
Managing other conditions
As mentioned above, it is common for people with IPF to also have other medical conditions (called “comorbidities”). These may include obesity, diabetes, pulmonary hypertension, obstructive sleep apnea, coronary artery disease, and emphysema.
These conditions will often require their own treatments and medicines. They may even have an impact on the course of IPF. Remember to always take your medicines as prescribed by your doctor.
If you have any questions about other health conditions you have, or the medicines you are taking for them, be sure to talk to your doctor.