middle-age woman holding her hands against her chest and feeling uncomfortable | Feature | Restrictive Lung Disease: What You Need to Know

Restrictive lung disease (RLD) is a chronic lung condition that limits or greatly decreases the ability to expand during inhalation of the person’s lung. So, here are the things that you should know about restrictive lung disease.

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What Is Restrictive Lung Disease?

This is a long-term lung condition. Its primary manifestation: the lungs cannot fully expand when breathing in. Hence, it causes a decreased lung volume or capacity. Consequently, the breathing rate rises to ensure sufficient oxygen supply.

In short, restrictive lung diseases are categorized as extrinsic and intrinsic, which can be confusing. So, here is a table with a few examples for each:

Extrinsic restrictive lung diseases:Intrinsic restrictive lung diseases:
Myasthenia gravis
Pleural Effusion
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis
Interstitial lung disease
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What Are the Symptoms?

Besides the main symptom of shortness of breath, restrictive lung disease also has several symptoms such:

  • Fatigue or extreme exhaustion without a reason
  • Anxiety
  • Weight loss
  • Inability to get enough breath or catch their breath
  • Chest pain
  • Chronic cough, usually dry but can be accompanied by white mucus or sputum, sometimes
  • Depression

As this condition progresses, it increasingly limits lifestyle and activity. Thus, it can seriously damage physical and mental health. So, it is usually at this point the person goes to the doctor with complaints.

What Is the Cause?

There is a variety of causes for restrictive lung disease, which include:

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How Do You Treat Restrictive Lung Disease?

The problem with restrictive lung disease is that it is progressive. In other words, it tends to worsen over time, and that’s why treatments can vary from person to person. For example, in some cases, the person cannot breathe in enough oxygen. As a result, healthcare professionals have to deliver oxygen to the patient’s lungs to help maintain blood oxygen levels. Finally, in more severe cases, lung transplant, corrective surgery may be needed, and stem cell therapy might be optimal.

However, medication can commonly be used to treat this condition, such as:

  • Cyclophosphamide
  • Methotrexate
  • anti-scarring medication, like nintedanib or pirfenidone
  • Azathioprine
  • Other anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive medications

Unfortunately, the majority of restrictive lung conditions synonymous with scarring, thickening, or lack of elasticity are permanent. However, there are ways to reduce the effects of restrictive lung diseases. For instance, doing exercises at home or making some changes to your lifestyle have been shown to reduce the symptoms’ severity.

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Patients are usually encouraged to follow these recommended methods:

  • Visualized meditation and relaxation such as yoga
  • Breathing exercises
  • Quit smoking
  • Stay away from environments with irritants, toxins, or allergens that may worsen your condition
  • Level walking

If you are a patient with RLD: stick closely to your healthcare plan, and keep your eyes on the target of improving your lifestyle as much as possible. Thus, this mindset can help relieve the symptoms of restrictive lung disease and increase your quality of life.

Have you ever heard of restrictive lung disease? Let us know your story in the comments below!


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