The idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is a rare disease that affects about 7,500 people, with a higher prevalence in older male smokers 50 years. Although the exact cause is not known, we know that tobacco acts as an adjuvant in the development of this pathology, as well as in the combined syndrome in which there are emphysema and fibrosis.
The objective of this initiative, which coincides with the International Week of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, is to inform and raise awareness of the importance of an early diagnosis to improve the quality of life of patients. Early detection is critical so we can start with antifibrotic medications, which help control the disease.
And what are the main symptoms of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis? According to the pulmonologist, the early symptoms/ signs are:
- Fatigue and breathlessness with exertion (dyspnea),
- A cough dry and irritative,
- Changes in nails and toes or fingers clubbed ( clubbing ),
- The crackling sounds when breathing
- Change of shape of lungs into honeycomb shape.
Health education is very important for the patient to be aware of the symptoms and risk factors such as smoking, family history or previous lung injury,” said Ancochea.
In their experience, this disease is diagnosed late because discomfort such as fatigue or coughing can be confused with more common ones such as COPD . “The key is that if a person has progressive dyspnea, is over 50 years and exfumador, go to the doctor even if they do not yet show the other signs,” he stressed.
Advice for patients with pulmonary fibrosis
This event was also attended by the Association of Relatives and Patients of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (Afefpi) and the Spanish Federation of Rare Diseases (Feder), as well as the collaboration of Boehringer laboratories. Along the same lines as Ancochea, Carlos Lines Millán, president of Afefpi, and Elena Escalante, representative of Feder, have insisted on the need for those affected to recognize the disease by its impact on the progression of the disease. Other recommendations for these patients are:
To follow a healthy and balanced diet, betting on the integral products .
Learn relaxation techniques and exercise to stay active within your means.
Sometimes antifibrotic therapy can cause diarrhea and other intestinal discomforts, so it is advisable to make a soft diet in a timely manner.
Consult the pharmacist at the hospital, where they should pick up the medication, if they are in doubt about the interactions between the drugs.
Be careful with the information that circulates on the internet because it causes fears and doubts in the patient. If you have any questions, you should always go to the health professionals.
Patients can make their normal lives within the limitations of the disease itself. We want to convey a message of hope because although it is historically related to a severe prognosis and a high mortality rate, we know the therapeutic targets. Now we talk about the art of diagnosing but in the future we will work on the art of healing.
Each person faces it in a different way and, in the case of family members, they often feel powerless in the face of the new situation. Information is crucial for those affected to decide how to act and discourages the pact of silence that sometimes takes place in the oncology consultation.