Your patient or loved one has the option to be prescribed medicine for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) called OFEV® (nintedanib) capsules, which have been shown to slow decline in lung function, as measured by FVC, by approximately 50%. Acute exacerbations (serious attacks of shortness of breath) can occur in some people with IPF. Serious attacks of shortness of breath can have many causes. Your doctor will determine if the episode is caused by IPF. In 2 out of 3 medical studies, the chance of having a first acute exacerbation during a 1-year period was significantly reduced in people taking OFEV capsules compared with those taking placebo. For this reason it is important that you make sure the patient takes OFEV exactly as the doctor prescribed.
Oxygen is important in supporting the cells and organs in your body. One of your responsibilities may be to make sure that your patient or loved one has enough oxygen available. Patients may be prescribed oxygen therapy to help them.
Whether a person receives oxygen therapy or not can depend on their lung function test results. These tests show how much oxygen is in the blood. The goal is to keep the person’s oxygen level above 90%. If it is lower, they may need oxygen therapy.
Most of the time, oxygen therapy is given through nasal cannula, which are small tubes or prongs that are placed in the nostrils. A second way is to use a face mask. This fits completely over the patient’s nose and mouth. These are hooked up to a tank that may or may not be portable. Home oxygen containers are usually large. They hold a lot of oxygen. Small, portable containers are easy to carry and convenient, and can be used when the patient goes out.
Some people believe that oxygen is addictive. This is not true! A person cannot become addicted to oxygen and should use it according to their doctor’s prescription if it makes them feel better. If you are caring for someone with IPF, always know how much oxygen has been prescribed. Give them that amount—no more and no less. Because oxygen is considered a medicine, insurance may only cover the amount of oxygen prescribed.
Ask the doctor about when the patient should use oxygen. Also ask how much should be used at one time.
It is important to do things that can help your patient with their IPF. This means:
- Taking all medicines they’ve been prescribed
- Getting any vaccines their doctor recommends. This includes a yearly flu vaccine and pneumonia vaccine (only receive once after age 60)
- Keeping doctor appointments
- Getting and following doctor's advice