If you received a diagnosis of pulmonary fibrosis, you might have several questions. Many people have questions about symptoms they may experience and treatment options.
Although it may be something you don’t want to discuss, it’s also common to wonder about your life expectancy. Understanding the facts and getting the correct info can help decrease fears.
Consider the following information about IPF prognosis:
1. Several factors affect your prognosis
If you did an internet search, you might have discovered the average life expectancy for someone diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is between three and five years according to published literature. But several factors play a role in prognosis. For example, your age at diagnosis, stage of disease, and additional health conditions you have all affect your prognosis.
2. A doctor cannot predict your experience with IPF or your exact prognosis.
While you may want to know what your prognosis is, your doctor cannot predict your life expectancy. Every person is different. It’s also helpful to remember, that the average life expectancy is just that an average, and it may not reflect your situation.
In most instances, disease progression is inevitable. But your individual rate of progression may not be the same as someone else with IPF. Remember, life expectancy for people with IPF varies from person to person based on individual circumstances.
3. People with IPF are at risk for additional health problems that also affect life expectancy.
Having idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis puts you at risk for developing additional complications. For instance, people with IPF are at an increased risk of developing right-sided heart failure, stroke, and lung infections.
4. Treatment may slow the progression of IPF.
Currently, treatment for IPF will not cure the disease. But in some cases, it may slow the progression. It also may help decrease symptoms and improve quality of life.
Treatment may include medication, oxygen therapy, and pulmonary rehabilitation classes. Medication may slow progression. For example, medications such as nintedanib and pirfenidone, may improve survival in some people. Oxygen therapy may help decrease shortness of breath, and pulmonary rehab may improve quality of life. Developing a comprehensive treatment plan with your doctor will help you manage your disease better.
5. Women tend to have a better prognosis than men.
Some studies have indicated that women may have a better prognosis than men when it comes to IPF. The exact reason why women may live longer is not fully understood.
6. Having a lower body mass index is associated with a shortened life expectancy.
Unintentional weight loss is common in people with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, and it is associated with a worse prognosis. If low body mass is an issue, it’s essential to talk with your doctor to develop a plan to prevent further weight loss.
7. Research continues for treatments on IPF.
No one can predict the exact timeframe for new treatments, but idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis clinical trials and research continues. In the future, new treatments may improve symptoms and increase life expectancy. Hope remains that one day idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis will be curable.
Content written by Dr. Jeremy Feldman, an expert in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, with contributions by MaryAnn DePietro, B.S. CRT, a licensed respiratory therapist.