Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis

Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis

Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis is a lung disease that builds slowly and can become deadly. The word “pulmonary” refers to the lungs, and “idiopathic” is a medical term that describes something with no known cause. Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, or IPF, is one of the few diseases left in the world that is still something of a mystery to researchers.

 Doctors use the word “fibrosis” to describe the existence of scars. People with IPF experience thickening and scarring on the lining of their lungs. This scarring gets progressively worse, and eventually makes it impossible for the lungs to process oxygen and send it into the bloodstream.

 Without a known cause, and with symptoms that appear similar to other lung diseases, IPF is hard to diagnose – and even harder to treat.

 

Looking at the numbers

 According to the Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis, there are about 48,000 cases of IPF diagnosed in the U.S. each year. And each year, 40,000 people die of the disease. Although this fatal toll is the same as that of breast cancer, IPF is not widely known or understood by the general public.

 IPF research suffers from the same unpublicized fate. Research for this deadly disease is funded at an extremely low level when compared to other medical research. IPF receives about 80% less funding than research for cystic fibrosis, and is funded about 62% less than ALS research, even though it affects many more people.


Recent Developments

Current studies are looking into the possibility of genetics as a potential trigger for IPF. Researchers also point to cigarette smoking and exposure to metal and wood dust as potential risk factors. However, despite a significant incidence of IPF in families – and in first responders to the attack on the World Trade Center – there are still no definitive answers to the mystery of IPF.

 

Living with IPF

 IPF begins with a shortening of breath and a dry cough that persists for a month or more. It is often misdiagnosed at first, since its symptoms are so similar to other lung diseases. Even the characteristic crackling sound that doctors can hear in the lungs with a stethoscope is often flagged as a sign of heart disease. IPF patients are frequently treated for other diseases until they can be ruled out, and only a diagnosis of IPF remains.

 Over time, the symptoms of IPF get worse. When patients are first diagnosed, they may be able to continue some of their normal activities, simply feeling short of breath and fatigued. But as breathing becomes progressively more difficult, patients begin to give up their basic daily tasks. Eventually it becomes impossible to climb stairs, to walk, and even to sleep without the help of an oxygen tank.


Treating Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis

IPF can be difficult to treat. There are currently no prescription drugs proven to stop the progression of IPF in the lungs. Patients will eventually need an oxygen tank to breathe. In the later stages of the disease, even this is not enough.

Currently the only known medical method that results in complete recovery for IPF patients is a lung transplant. In severe conditions, those going without a lung transplant, are likely to survive just two to five years after they are diagnosed.


Natural Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Support Options

While not a cure, there are many proven natural supplements that have been shown to stabilize this condition and possibly prolong one’s health. Currently, laboratory testing is being conducted even more on a variance of natural ingredients geared at improving lung health. Powerful pulmonary improving antioxidants, concentrated vitamin D3 in high dosages, N-Acetyl Cysteine, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Acetyl L-Carnitine and systemic enzymes are  to name just a few.