Pulmonary Fibrosis Month - Hope of a Better Future
(September 13, 2016)
Pulmonary fibrosis is a disease affecting approximately 140,000 Americans that causes irreversible scarring of the lung tissue, making it nearly impossible for oxygen to pass through the walls of the lungs into the bloodstream. Pulmonary fibrosis is particularly challenging because most cases have no known cause and currently, there are few treatments and no cure. There is still much to be discovered about how to prevent and treat this disease, and there is no better time to increase public awareness of the disease than during September—Pulmonary Fibrosis Month.
During Pulmonary Fibrosis Awareness Month, the American Lung Association recommits its efforts to combat pulmonary fibrosis through research dedicated to finding a cause and effective treatments through our Research Awards Nationwide, our in-person Better Breathers Clubs and our two free, online support communities - Living with Pulmonary Fibrosis and Caring for Pulmonary Fibrosis - on Inspire.com. These programs offer the opportunity to learn better ways for coping with pulmonary fibrosis while getting the support of others who share the same struggles.
A diagnosis of pulmonary fibrosis is a challenging life change. We asked Albert Rizzo, M.D. Senior Medical Advisor to the American Lung Association to share his best advice to pulmonary fibrosis patients.
"There is no cure for pulmonary fibrosis. Current treatments are aimed at preventing more lung scarring; relieving symptoms and helping you stay active and healthy. Treatment cannot fix lung scarring that has already occurred. It is important to be a good communicator with your doctor and to make sure that symptoms you have such as cough or shortness of breath are heard and evaluated earlier rather than later," advises Rizzo.
There are several things patients can do to live a more active and healthy life. Along with practicing breathing techniques that help individuals reclaim their breath, pulmonary rehabilitation is a series of education and exercise classes that enable individuals to be more active with less shortness of breath. Clinical trials may also available to better understand how pulmonary fibrosis develops and may give individuals access to new types of treatment being studied. A healthcare provider can help determine if enrolling in a clinical trial is the right choice for specific conditions.