A rare respiratory disease that affects 14 out of every 100,000 people in the world. Here we teach you how to identify it in order to delay its development.
Dr. Emily Rincón Álvarez, a pulmonologist and member of the Colombian Association of Pneumology, explains that a treatment to stop the progression of the disease can be considered successful if the lungs continue functioning at their usual capacity, or if idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) does not compromise their function by more than 50%.
“Early diagnosis is the only thing that can prevent the acute deterioration of lung function by 50%, so the disease would have a much slower progression and would allow the patient to prolong his life,” said the specialist.
IPF affects the lung tissue and promotes the appearance of scars on it, gradually extending into the organ and deteriorating its condition. In addition, its symptoms can be confused with other diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or lung cancer, since there are difficulties breathing or speaking, acute cough, weakness in the body, and even weight loss.
According to Carlos Matiz, president of the Colombian Association of Pneumology and Thoracic Surgery, “doctors should be suspicious based on the patient’s medical history, age, and symptoms such as asphyxia, fatigue, chronic cough, and unusual lung sounds, among others. It may also be suspected in patients with malformations in the fingers.”
Although it has been proven that the disease is more common in men over 65, it is a chronic disease that, to date, has no cure beyond lung transplantation. However, if identified early, IPF can be treated with medication, oxygen, or pulmonary rehabilitation to slow its development and increase the patient’s quality of life.