How do I know if I need a lung transplant?
Below are some of the symptoms you might experience if your pulmonary fibrosis has progressed to the point that you might need a lung transplant:
- Shortness of breath, fatigue
- Dizziness, fainting,
- Arterial blood gas of 60mlhg at rest
- Oximeter (O2) measurements of less than 90% at movement or while
- Forced Vital Capacity (FVC) of 60% or less.
- Results of your CT scan
If I have symptoms, I should:
- Talk to my pulmonologist
- Talk to my family
- Develop a plan (see section on developing your plan.)
The numbers to watch for:
The Forced Vital Capacity (FVC) measures how much air you blow out as hard and fast as you can. The DLCO or diffusion is how much oxygen can pass through the lining of the lung to the bloodstream. The results of your pulmonary function tests will go down with the progression of pulmonary fibrosis. These numbers are also affected if you have a cold, bronchitis or pneumonia. Thus, one bad test can be an anomaly. You and your doctor should watch for a trend in your numbers. If you know you have a type of HPS that involves lung disease, start having pulmonary function tests before you feel symptoms. This way, you and your doctor will know what is normal for your lungs. That makes it easier to spot problems early and take steps to keep you as healthy as possible.
What if I need oxygen?
If your lungs are getting sick, at some point your doctor will want you to start using supplemental oxygen. No one wants to have to use oxygen, but it is very important that if your doctor prescribes it, that you follow his or her directions. The oxygen will make you feel better and be able to do more. If you don’t use it, you will experience more symptoms and can put additional pressure on the other organs of the body such as the heart. This can create additional medical problems that can not only make you feel sick, but could complicate getting a lung transplant.