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Shortness of Breath, Persistent Cough May be Signs of Rare Lung Disease

Paying attention to our overall health as we age is key to aging well. Getting the proper diagnosis for symptoms of illness can make all the difference, particularly for those experiencing shortness of breath and persistent dry cough.

Shortness of breath and a persistent dry cough could be signs of a progressive lung disease called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, or IPF.[1] IPF often goes untreated because it is either undiagnosed or misdiagnosed – sometimes even for years – as other more common diseases that have similar symptoms such as asthma or COPD.[2]

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Shortness of Breath, Persistent Cough May be Signs of Rare Lung Disease

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IPF is a rare disease, affecting about 100,000 Americans,1 and the disease is more common in men than in women.[3]

While every person’s experience with IPF is different, its impact is severe: the life expectancy after diagnosis is only 3-5 years.[4] This is why it’s important for people to know about the common symptoms and that there are ways to manage the disease, including treatment options.

Also, there’s a new program called Exhale: Mindfully Manage Your IPF that empowers people living with IPF to take a proactive role in their care. The program offers at-home mindfulness videos and resources developed specifically to help people living with this disease, who often experience feelings of anxiety, frustration and isolation, manage these emotions.

Dr. Devin Sherman joined me to discuss his expertise in treating IPF. Alongside him was Bill, an IPF patient who shared his personal health journey of living with the disease.

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Take a look below.

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To learn more, visit mindful-ipf.com and pulmonaryfibrosis.org.

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Meet Our Guests: 

Devin Sherman, M.D., is a graduate of Quillen College of Medicine at East Tennessee State University, and he completed a residency and fellowship at Barnes-Jewish Hospital at Washington University in St. Louis. He is board certified in pulmonary disease, internal medicine and critical care medicine.

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Bill was diagnosed with IPF in 2008. After mentioning to his general practitioner he felt a little out of breath going up stairs, Bill was referred to a pulmonary specialist. Bill went through several tests, including x-rays, pulmonary tests, a CT scan, and finally after a lung biopsy, his pulmonologist confirmed he had IPF. Bill would go in for pulmonary tests every six months and become very stressed days before. After seven years of watching his health, he decided to do more. Bill began attending pulmonary rehabilitation and requested a portable oxygen tank so he could continue daily activities without getting out of breath. His daughter, who is completing her Ph.D. in neuropsychology, suggested he look into mindfulness. Bill practices mindfulness to reduce stress.

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[1] National Institutes of Health. Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. Available at: http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/idiopathic-pulmonary-fibrosis.

[2]Coalition for Pulmonary Fibrosis. Action Alert. Available at: http://www.coalitionforpf.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/ActionAlert2Q04.pdf.

[3] American Thoracic Society. Patient Information Series. http://www.thoracic.org/patients/patient-resources/resources/idiopathic-pulmonary-fibrosis.pdf. Accessed November 10, 2015.

[4] Nathan SD, et al. Chest. 2011; 140:221-229.

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Makeba Giles is a Digital Content Producer and Founder of Faith Health and Home, a digital space with information and resources for physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being to help families live an inspired lifestyle.

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