How To Know If It’s IPF or Just Getting Old  

How many things do people dismiss in daily life as just a sign of getting older?

Too many, in my opinion.

But in this article, The New York Times seems to agree.

We’re used to hearing people brush off joint aches and back pain, needing new glasses or becoming hard of hearing. But what about shortness of breath?

“I’m just out of shape.”

“I can’t exercise like I used to.”

“I’m ___ years old! Of course it’s harder to get up the stairs!”

However, a pulmonologist in California believes that doctors should take any complaint of breathlessness seriously. But, instead of just looking for the most obvious culprits (asthma, COPD, and heart disease), doctors should also be on the lookout for something more sinister, like idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).

This involves going beyond the standard X-ray and ordering a high-resolution CT scan. But to a smart doctor, the warning signs are detectable by a mere stethoscope.

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When listening to the lungs, the doctor can hear a distinct crackling in the lungs. When this is heard, a CT scan should be an immediate follow up test. The last thing to look for? High blood pressure within the lungs, which can be found through a simple echocardiogram and the findings confirmed with a catheterization of the heart (though only on the right side).

While IPF takes a few more tests to diagnose, the rewards of early diagnosis are huge.

With new medications out on the market for IPF, early detection is key. Both medications, while not cures, help slow down the progression of IPF.

So, if a person gets an IPF diagnosis when they have only lost 15% of their lung function, as opposed to when they’ve lost 50% of their lung function, those medications could make a big impact in changing not only the course of their disease, but also the quality of their daily life.

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Daniel Castner, who is living with IPF, wonders whether he would have lost as much lung function as quickly if the the medication had been available at the time of his diagnosis.

The two drugs available that help slow down the progression of IPF are Roche’s Esbriet and Boehringer Ingelheim’s Ofev.


Farrah Fontaine

Farrah Fontaine

As a child, Farrah Fontaine always knew she wasn't normal. Part of her family descends from the ancient Silk Road, which made her stand out in the Great White North. That's why she wants to give voice to the voiceless so they know they're not alone.

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