September is Pulmonary Fibrosis Awareness Month.
Pulmonary Fibrosis means scarring of the lungs, but it is much more serious than ‘just’ having a scar on your lung. It means that scar tissue builds up (and continues to build up) on the walls of the air sacks of the lungs. It means that it is harder and harder to breathe and when you do breathe it means that it is harder for the air to transfer from the lungs to the blood.
People with PF have shortness of breath (particularly with exertion) and low oxygen levels in the blood. Pulmonary Fibrosis is actually a blanket term for over 200 different but similar looking lung dsieases (often referred to as interstitial lung disease.
Some cases of PF can be tied to an underlying comorbidity disase or medicine. Others are idiopathic (NO clue what cause this one). Some diseases that underly pulmonary fibrosis are RA, Scleroderma, or some muscle disease. It can be caused by inhaling asbestos, silica, coal dust or other inorganic dusts
Sometimes when the doctors hear hoofbeats, they think horses (common conditions) and sometimes they should consider that it might be zebras or unicorns.
It can take YEARS to be diagnosed with PF, that is years that treatments that could slow down this horrible terminal condition isn’t taking place.
Common symptoms of pulmonary fibrosis include:
- Chronic dry, hacking cough
- Fatigue and weakness
- Discomfort in the chest
- Loss of appetite
- Unexplained weight loss