2 posts tagged “shortness of breath”

Living with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis

Posted March 1st, 2013 by

What is idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF)? How many people does it affect? Do we know what the cause is? Can it be treated? If you don’t know the answers, you’re not alone. IPF is considered a rare disease by the National Institutes of Health and much of the research surrounding it is not definitive.

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So what do we know? IPF is a degenerative condition with no known cause that gradually scars a person’s lung tissue. As more and more tissue scars, the lungs slowly lose their ability to transfer oxygen to vital organs. This can lead to shortness of breath and dry coughing. As the condition progresses, everyday activities become exhausting – just climbing a flight of stairs can be a challenge. It usually affects people between the ages of 50 and 70 years old. More than 100,000 people in the US are diagnosed every year and nearly 40,000 will pass away. The only known cure is a lung transplant.

If you’re living with IPF, find others just like you in our growing community of more than 900 IPF patients. Learn what they’re doing to manage their condition with symptom and treatment reports, and share your own experience with a personal health profile and in the IPF forum. If you haven’t read about our collaboration with Boehringer Ingelheim to create this customized IPF experience on PatientsLikeMe, check it out here.

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Are Your Lungs Trying to Tell You Something?

Posted November 28th, 2011 by

Chronic coughing and wheezing.  Frequent shortness of breath.  Struggling for air.  These are some of the symptoms of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which affects 24 million Americans (or approximately one in five adults over the age of 45).  As many as half of them don’t realize they have COPD, however, as many people mistake their slowly worsening symptoms as normal aging or a lack of fitness.

November is National COPD Awareness Month, and the COPD Learn More Breathe Better® campaign, sponsored by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, aims to raise awareness about this under-diagnosed condition.  With a growing prevalence in the US, COPD – which includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis – is now the third leading cause of death in the US as well as a significant cause of long-term disability.

While COPD can have environmental or genetic risk factors that lead to its development in non-smokers, the disease most often occurs in people age 40 and over with a history of smoking (either current or former smokers).  Smoking is the most common cause of COPD, accounting for as many as 9 out of 10 COPD-related deaths.  Thus, quitting smoking now can reduce your risk.  (Worried about your ability to quit?  Read our recent Great American Smokeout blog for motivation, resources and support.)

A Snapshot of the COPD Community at PatientsLikeMe

If you’ve been diagnosed with COPD, connecting with other patients like you can help you learn how to live better with the condition.  331 patients report COPD at PatientsLikeMe, with 44 listing it as their primary condition.  Some of the common treatments they report include Budesonide, Fluticasone, Prednisone and Oxygen Therapy.  (Click on each name to see the treatment evaluations submitted by our patients, who share their experiences with effectiveness, side effects, cost and more.)

Not sure if your breathing problems might be COPD?  See your doctor for a simple breathing test known as spirometry.  The earlier you get diagnosed and treated, the sooner you can begin to breathe a little easier.