Few people pay much attention to their fingernails, but certain issues can be signs of underlying health problems. Clubbing fingernails may be an early sign of a variety of respiratory problems—chief among them pulmonary fibrosis. Here is how a person can understand the ways that clubbing can be used to catch this problem early and successfully treat it.

Signs of Clubbing

Clubbing is a condition that causes a widening of the fingertips. It also affects the fingernails by softening them, creating a sharper angle, curving them downward, and making them "float" on the bed of the nail, rather than being attached to it. Lung problems and respiratory disorders—such as pulmonary fibrosis—are the most common cause of this problem.

Clubbing, paired with the following symptoms, will indicate a person is likely suffering from the early stages of pulmonary fibrosis:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Slow and unintended weight loss
  • Fatigue and sickness
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Shallow breathing

Pulmonary fibrosis is a scarring of the tissues of the lungs that rapidly spreads and which will continually decrease a person's ability to breathe. Understanding early care and treatment methods is crucial for surviving what can be a fatal condition.

Early Care Is Essential with This Disease

Catching pulmonary fibrosis early by understanding symptoms like this is necessary because the survival rates for this disease are very low. Therefore, catching this disease early and slowing its symptoms is an important way of helping a person beat the five-year projected survival rate. The only way to do this is to get on the lung transplant list and get the new lungs they need to survive.

Treatment Methods

If a person suspects that they are suffering from this serious and progressive respiratory problem, they need to do what they can to treat its symptoms right away. This includes quitting smoking, monitoring oxygen levels, pulmonary rehabilitation (exercise programs to increase lung strength), vaccinations to prevent diseases that damage lungs, and losing weight to manage symptom severity.

These simple preventative measures can help decrease the spread of this disease until the necessary use of serious treatments, such as corticosteroids, cyclophosphamide, and oxygen therapy. These treatments help decrease scarring spread and provide the person with a comfortable level of oxygen. The only way to truly stop this disease for good, though, is with a lung transplant of non-scarred lungs.

Catching the onset of pulmonary fibrosis by gauging clubbed fingernails early on in the disease can help increase a person's chance of surviving this often fatal respiratory disease. For more information, talk to doctors at Corner Home Medical.