According to a story from nbcrightnow.com, pulmonary fibrosis affects hundreds of thousands of people in the US. However, many people still have not heard of the disease and are not able to recognize the potential warning signs. However, this was not the case for Gary Cunningham, who was recently diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. This was because his mother also had the disease, which claimed her life when she was only 61 years old.
About Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is a deadly, chronic, progressive lung disease which is characterized by lung tissue scarring, leading to a decline in lung function over time. The cause of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is unknown. With that being said, there are a few risk factors that have been identified, such as smoking cigarettes, exposure to various dusts (metal, wood, stone, and coal dust), occupations related to farming, family history, and potentially certain viral infections. Symptoms include shortness of breath, a dry cough, a distinctive crackling sound detected with a stethoscope, oxygen deficiency in the blood, and clubbed digits. There are few treatment options that can have a significant impact on the progression of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Treatment may include certain medications, pulmonary rehabilitation, oxygen therapy, and lung transplant. Early intervention can make a major difference in outcomes; five year survival rate is between 20 and 40 percent. To learn more about idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, click here.
Because Gary was able to recognize the symptoms early, he was able to talk to his doctor promptly about his illness and possible treatment options. There are also valuable resources available for recently diagnosed patients who want to learn more about idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and understand what options they have. A great example is the website aboutpf.org. This website can provide a useful overview for patients. Aboutpf.org is operated by the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (PFF), a nonprofit organization which is dedicated to providing support to patients with the disease.
Gary and his wide Marianne Sarazin were able to use resources collected by the foundation and are now volunteers with PFF, leading support groups that help spread awareness. Gary is currently receiving treatment with medications, oxygen supplementation, and pulmonary rehabilitation.
If you are experiencing symptoms such as fatigue, shortness of breath, or a dry cough, don’t hesitate to ask your doctor to test for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
To learn more about Gary’s story, click here.