According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, PF is a disease in which tissue in our lungs becomes thick and stiff, or scarred, over time. The formation of this scar tissue is called fibrosis.
As the lung tissue thickens, your lungs can't properly move oxygen into your bloodstream. Sometimes the doctors can find the cause of this fibrosis, but often they cannot. Those cases are called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
PF is a serious disease that usually affects middle-aged and older adults. The severity of the disease varies from person to person. Some cases progress quickly while others may live with the disease for many years. Without a cure, most people live 3-5 years after diagnosis.
While FDA approved drugs do exist, they only slow the progression of the disease in some patients. The only "cure" for the disease is an expensive and intensive lung transplant.
After the intial diagnosis, a patient will see very little change in their day-to-day lives. However, as the disease progresses they will find it harder and harder to do everyday tasks. The inability to fully inflate their lungs means it becomes harder to catch their breath. Even walking across the house or up a few stairs becomes difficult. Usually, an oxygen tank is used to assist in breathing, but everyday tasks can still become strenuous.
As the disease progresses, even leaving the house can become difficult. Exposure to other people becomes risky, as a leading cause of death for IPF patients is infection of the respiratory system. Even a common cold can turn into pneumonia, which could be deadly for someone whose lungs are already weakened by PF.