Being Suffocated from the Inside Out: IPF

Imagine not being a smoker, not having asthma, not being obese, taking long walks every day, eating right, and being all around healthy.

Imagine, little by little, as you take your long walks or head up the stairs to say good night to your family, you start having a shortness of breath. Imagine weeks later starting to feel like you are suffocating. Imagine a persistent cough that your doctors are unable to diagnose for 1, 2, maybe 3 years.

This is what it is like to live with IPF (Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis). There is no known cause, no cure, and is often misdiagnosed for lengthy periods of time.

The one and only hope in fighting this progressive disease before it suffocates the patient from the inside is a lung transplant, which thankfully the strongest man in my life, my Dad, is healthy enough to receive.

Lung transplants are not easy; they are expensive as anyone with medical bills in America knows, and the emotional stress is great. But my family and I are remaining optimistic.

My main goal here is IPF Awareness. Hearing my dad struggle to breathe, listening to him cough progressively worse over the past year, and seeing him unable to walk up the stairs or leave the house without an oxygen tank has not been easy for anyone who knows him; and yet I still see him as a strong, independent, loving, hard-working man. I can’t wait to see him healthy once again, to take a long walk down to the lake with him to go fishing, to hear him breathe without struggle.

For more info on IPF or to help advocate awareness:

To make a personal donation to go towards my parents’ medical bills as we await my dad, Mike’s, lung transplant:

Definition & Statistics:

  • Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a progressive and generally fatal disease characterized by scarring of the lungs that thickens the lining of the lungs, causing an irreversible loss of the tissue’s ability to transport oxygen. IPF ultimately robs a patient of the ability to breathe.
  • IPF affects about 128,100 people in the United States, with about 48,000 new cases diagnosed annually. (1) 40,000 people die each year to IPF, the same as to breast cancer.
  • Scarring, or fibrosis, caused by IPF thickens and stiffens the interstitium, causing an irreversible loss of the tissues’ ability to transport oxygen.
  • IPF is five times more common than cystic fibrosis and Lou Gehrig’s Disease (or ALS), yet the disease remains virtually unknown (to general public and even among some physicians) and IPF receives a fraction of the research funding (IPF: approx. $18 million per year; Cystic Fibrosis and ALS: $85 million and $48 million per year respectively.
  • There is no known cause, no FDA approved treatments and no cure for IPF. IPF is one of the few remaining diseases in which this is the case.
  • IPF is one of about 200 disorders called interstitial lung diseases (ILDs). IPF is the most common form of ILD
  • Although other ILDs may be attributed to exposure to asbestos or certain medications, IPF has no known or proven cause.
  • Potential risk factors for IPF include cigarette smoking and exposure to wood or metal dust. In addition, researchers are exploring a potential genetic predisposition for the disease.
  • About two-thirds of IPF patients pass away within five years.
  • IPF occurs more often in men than women. Men tend to be diagnosed at a later stage in the disease.
  • A recent study found that IPF may be 5 to 10 times more prevalent than previously thought. It is unknown whether this may be due to an increased prevalence of the disease or to a previous lack of definitive guidelines for diagnosing IPF (2)