Pune: Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) is a rare disease on the rise in India. It is a chronic and ultimately fatal disease, characterised by a progressive decline in lung function. There isn’t much awareness about it.
Dr Mahavir Modi, Pulmonologist, Ruby Hall Hospital and Modi Clinic, Pune, addressed the issue of the increasing IPF trend at a media briefing, to increase awareness of IPF, its symptoms and importance of early diagnosis.
He said, “The number of IPF cases have increased from four to five patients to 10 to 15 patients per day over three to four years. The disease is more common in males, as 60 per cent of the patients are males. In females the IPF rate is less and it can be treated and cured. This may be because of smoking and exposure to some environmental pollutants.”
The signs and symptoms of this disease include rapid and shallow breathing, tiredness and loss of energy, chronic cough, chest pain or tightness, unexplained weight loss, loss of appetite, change of finger shape called ‘clubbing’ and aching muscles and joints. Dr Modi said, “A CT scan is the best way to diagnose this disease and it cannot be diagnosed by X-ray. If diagnosed early, it could be cured. The average survival time of IPF patients is about three to five years after the diagnosis. Yearly death ratio of this disease is 30 per cent.”
Dr Modi said, “The prevalence and incidence of IPF is more between the ages of 40 to 70 years. The cause of the disease is yet to be discovered. However, genetics and diabetes can play a role in the development of IPF. Many treatment options are not available in the city and the patient has to be sent to Chennai for further treatment. Since the symptoms of IPF are common, it is easily mistaken for cardiac disease, bronchitis, asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
He added, “For awareness about this disease, we organised a conference in the city in October 2017, where 300 doctors registered. We are also conducting camps all over the city to educate people about this disease.”