September is Pulmonary Fibrosis Awareness Month: Spreading Rare Disease Awareness

According to a story from Newswise, September is recognized as Pulmonary Fibrosis Awareness Month. This includes idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), or disease without an identifiable cause. In the midst of the ongoing coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic, the need for awareness surrounding respiratory illness is more critical than ever. Unfortunately, a recent study from the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (PFF) found that 86 percent of Americans don’t know the symptoms of the disease.

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 this disease 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 the illness. 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.

The Urgency of Awareness

One big challenge in this condition is the fact that its symptoms are often very similar to other respiratory diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or asthma. This can make diagnosing the illness very difficult, and delays in diagnosis can mean delays in treatment, which often reduces its effectiveness. Ultimately, the experience of every patient is unique and a variety of factors can play a role in individual outcomes; some of these factors include the presence of other health conditions, the progression of the disease at the time of diagnosis, and treatment plan.

Pulmonary Fibrosis Awareness Month is a critical time to amplify the cause of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and spread awareness to the medical community and the general public. The PFF is organizing a “Portraits of PF” series of videos that depicts the day to day life of patients as well as a campaign on social media called “30 Facts in 30 Days.” 

If you are interested in learning more about how you can get involved in spreading awareness, click here

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