The European Lung Foundation (ELF) has published a new patient guide fact sheet on idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). The factsheet describes what IPF is in plain language and how it should be managed. It is free to download.
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a chronic disease which scars the alveoli which reduces lung efficiency. This build-up of scar tissue is called fibrosis. Fibrosis makes the lungs stiffer and less elastic making it hard to inspire thus reducing oxygen uptake in the lung. Sufferers get breathlessness from everyday activities and cough frequently. It is a rare disease and can be difficult to diagnose.
IPF is initially insidious but becomes progressive over time, which is usually many years but symptoms can get worse much more quickly. Progress of the disease is unpredictable and sufferers can have acute exacerbations.
Research suggests about 6,000 people are diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis every year in the UK alone, mostly in men over 70 years. There is no known cure for IPF, but treatments are available to slow disease progression and to help manage the symptoms effectively. The main symptoms are: