Acute Exacerbations of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF)
The two words: “acute exacerbation (AE)” are some of the most feared among the pulmonary fibrosis (PF) community, as AE’s can lead to a slew of complications for those of us living with this life-threatening lung disease. Despite AE’s being so feared, much remains unknown about the cause, treatment/management and prognosis of those who experience an exacerbation of their disease.
I can say for certain I have had one AE, back in May 2017 when both my lungs collapsed from an RSV and my disease worsened significantly. That decline in PFTs was unfortunately irreversible. Reflecting back on other experiences, particularly in November 2019 when I had a significant setback from pneumonia and influenza A, it could likely be argued this caused an AE as well but it’s never been communicated to me. This is part of the problem with AEs, they seem significantly misunderstood in the medical community around the world, and much of the practices to diagnose and treat AEs seem widely varied. More information can be found here, on the differences in diagnosing and treating acute IPF flares.
The conclusion of the article linked above states, “this strongly calls for research, education, and collaborations between ILD-specialists around the world to find new ways to approach this deadly complication of IPF”. It is my hope that addressing AE’s for IPF patients becomes the focus of future conferences and educational opportunities for physicians, as the differences in managing acute flares, currently pose a risk to IPF patients.
What has your experience been of acute exacerbations of IPF?
Have you ever had one?
If so, how was it managed/treated?
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