The symptoms and severity of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) will vary from person to person. However, here are a few signs and symptoms to look for:
|Shortness of breath||
|Chronic, dry, hacking cough||
|Crackling breath sounds||
|Fatigue and weakness||
|Loss of appetite/unexplained weight loss||
|Clubbing of fingertips||
How You Can Help Your Family Doctor
Symptoms of IPF, such as breathlessness, chest tightness, cough, and fatigue, can be similar to those of other diseases. For example, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and congestive heart failure (CHF) share some of these same symptoms. What’s more, your primary care doctor may not have seen many (if any) patients with IPF before. In fact, up to 50% of cases of IPF are misdiagnosed.
If you have some or all of these symptoms, describe them carefully to your family doctor. Your family doctor may refer you to a lung specialist (a pulmonologist). This type of doctor specializes in the treatment of lung disease. However, not all pulmonologists are experienced with IPF. This is why you may want to try to find one who is familiar with the diagnosis of IPF, the course of IPF, and the latest approaches to managing its symptoms.
With IPF, you may not even experience any symptoms at the early stages. However, most patients find that their lung function grows gradually worse over time. Some patients may experience “acute exacerbations.” This is when you experience a sudden, significant worsening of lung function, with no apparent cause. These can lead to serious consequences such as permanent loss of lung function and hospitalization.
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This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.