Pulmonary Fibrosis (PF) is an interstitial lung disease that involves chronic inflammation of the lungs. Inflammation is the body’s natural healing response to injury or infection. In people that have PF, however, their body has an out-of-control healing response that leads to scarring or thickening of the tissues between the air sacs (or alveoli) in the lungs. This then impacts a person’s ability to breathe and can ultimately lead to further health complications, like respiratory or heart failure.
Even if you are already familiar with the symptoms of PF, it’s helpful to understand what causes the inflammation in the first place. Again, inflammation is actually part of each person’s natural immune response. Your body’s immune system becomes activated any time it recognizes anything as a foreign invader – like a virus, chemical, or pollen in the air. It then triggers inflammation to fight it off.
There are 5 classic signs of inflammation: pain, heat, redness, swelling, and loss of function. For example, if you get the flu, you might notice a fever or higher body temperature. This is an example of inflammation being used to improve or fight for your health. Similarly, if you stub your toe, you might notice swelling and redness. That is because your body sent inflammatory cells to help with the injury. Inflammatory cells are part of the body’s immune system. They naturally respond to threats to health, like injury or disease.
Even though inflammation is meant to help, it can become a concern if it lingers. Inflammation can persist even if there’s not a foreign invader or reason to trigger it. For many people, inflammation does not fully go away. Your body might feel like it’s constantly fighting for its health – and that can be exhausting! It can also lead to major health issues, or cause preexisting conditions to flare up.
Fortunately, there are ways to control your body’s inflammation so it can remain helpful and healthy. One of the most powerful ways to control inflammation, reduce your risk of illness, and avoid accelerating diseases like PF is by managing your nutrition. Generally, people with PF might want to avoid processed foods and instead focus on fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Fortunately, there are lots of healthy and delicious options. We will have a list of specifics available here.
Understanding inflammation and PF is both challenging and rewarding! If you think you may be suffering from chronic inflammation, you are not alone. To ask questions and learn more, please sign up for our support group and join our online community.