Dry cough. Fatigue. Shortness of breath. Amidst a pandemic, these symptoms appear as tell-tale signs of COVID-19. However, when chronic, these symptoms are suggestive of a rare lung disease from which more than 200,000 Americans suffer – pulmonary fibrosis (PF). Despite its seriousness, 86%* of Americans do not know the symptoms of PF.
In the current landscape of COVID-19 and an increased focus on respiratory health, September’s Pulmonary Fibrosis Awareness Month is more important than ever. In sharing resources and starting conversations about the disease, the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (PFF) and our PF community are dedicated to demystifying the realities of PF, from diagnosis to treatment.
PF Signs and Symptoms
As pulmonary fibrosis symptoms mirror those of other illnesses such as the common cold, many PF patients are not diagnosed until the disease progresses to its later stages. In addition to shortness of breath, fatigue and a dry, persistent cough, other symptoms of PF to be aware of include:
- Discomfort in the chest
- Loss of appetite
- Unexplained weight loss
When chronic, these symptoms should be the catalysts in starting a conversation with your doctor. Catching PF early in its progression is crucial in identifying the right treatment plan and maximizing patient quality of life.
The PF Patient Experience
Every person diagnosed with PF has a unique experience with the disease. Some patients remain in a stable condition for years with the disease, while others experience rapid deterioration. However, most patients find themselves in the middle, with good and bad days. While there is no cure for the disease, there are effective treatments:
- Supportive care treatments such as supplemental oxygen and pulmonary rehabilitation
- “Antifibrotics,” medications that slow down disease progression by about 50% on average, compared to those not on treatment
- Lung transplantation, a limited treatment for some individuals with late-stage PF
Pulmonary Fibrosis Awareness Month
We encourage you to take advantage of the PFF’s resources to learn more – and AboutPF.org is a great place to start. Throughout September, our patient advocates, #PFHeroes, will share their inspirational stories of advocacy, both in their communities and across the country. Check out the PFF’s social media channels for “Portraits of PF,” a collection of patients sharing their respective journeys. And, for important info about PF throughout the month, look out for “30 Facts About PF” on social media.
For more information about pulmonary fibrosis, please visit www.AboutPF.org. To learn more about Pulmonary Fibrosis Awareness Month and to get involved, visit https://www.pulmonaryfibrosis.org/get-involved/pf-awareness.