According to a story from The Irish Times, a new campaign is encouraging people with the rare lung condition idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis to keep exercising. The campaign is centered around the lives and stories of three people with the illness. The challenges of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis are very real, and the campaign aims to give hope and encouragement to people that are still struggling to adjust.
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a progressive, long term lung disease in which the inner passages of the organs begin to become scarred. As a result, lung function progressively worsens over time. Symptoms include a dry cough, shortness of breath, and clubbing of the digits. A diagnostic characteristic is a distinctive ‘crackling’ sound that can be heard with a stethoscope. Any disease with the term ‘idiopathic’ in the title has an unknown cause, but there are several potential risk factors. These include tobacco smoking, exposure to certain environmental factors (possibly dusts, chemical, gases, or smoke), or gastroesophageal reflux disease. In a small percentage of cases, genetic factors may play a role. Treatments include oxygen supplementation, certain medications, and lung rehabilitation. While these options can slow disease progression and reduce the severity of symptoms, there is no cure. a lung transplant is a good option in severe disease. Five year survival stands around 20-40 percent. To learn more about idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, click here.
A substantial portion of people with IPF are not receiving adequate treatment. As the disease progresses, the patient’s exercise tolerance eventually begins to decline dramatically. The campaign is encouraging patients to walk 2,000 steps for day; not a lot for a healthy individual, but a major achievement for an IPF patient with advanced disease. A common measure of disease progression is the ability of the patient to walk for six minutes.