What's In This Article
Understanding your idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis stages and life expectancy is critical to knowing what’s next.
For those who have been diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), knowing what’s next and what you can do will often prompt some difficult questions.
Some of the question include “what is the disease,” what are its stages” and what’s its associated life expectancy?”
Few people like to reflect on their own mortality, but when facing a diagnosis such as IPF, it’s important to be direct and forthcoming with what’s to be expected.
In this way, it’s possible to directly address the root problems of the disease’s symptom expression and overall progression through changes in personal health and proven treatment options.
So, What Are Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Stages And Life Expectancy?
In short, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is a restrictive lung disease that results in scarring within the lungs. The term idiopathic means that it is derived from an unknown origin. This means that for those who have IPF, the cause of the development of the disease is unknown.
Although this can be frustrating—particularly as you navigate your disease symptoms and life expectancy—the Lung Institute is here to breakdown your disease, what you can expect and to underscore the necessary changes you need to make in order to live the longest and most comfortable life moving forward.
With your health in mind, we’re here to explore Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Stages and Life Expectancy and show you how you can get your life back amidst the confusion.
As we mentioned above, IPF is a restrictive lung disease that originates and develops within the lungs, primarily characterized by the excessive scarring of the lungs’ pathways.
When these passageways begin to thicken and harden, it makes the inhalation of oxygen and its ease of passage difficult. As a result, for those with IPF, symptoms of breathlessness, shortness of breath and an overall difficulty in breathing can be expected.
In staging a lung disease’s life expectancy, the predominant tests commonly associated with this practice are the GOLD system and the BODE index. These two individual assessments rely largely on quantitative scoring on a patient’s pulmonary function test results.
In the case of the BODE index, several other physical metrics, such as a 6-minute walk test, further expand upon the lungs’ ability to function.
Although these assessments are largely general in nature, allowing for discrepancies in overall outlooks on a person-to-person basis, the pulmonary stages are typically broken down into mild, moderate, severe and advanced.
After this initial staging, doctors will then make recommendations for treatment.
Here’s How the Stages Breakdown:
- Mild and Moderate stages: typically carry a life expectancy of 5+ years if the patient’s personal health is maintained (eating healthy, exercising, quitting smoking, etc.) along with a combined treatment regimen.
- Severe stages: commonly carry a life expectancy of less than 5 years, and treatment is often a necessity
- Advanced stages: usually carry a life expectancy of less than 3 years, and in extreme cases invasive treatment options such as transplant and reduction may be imperative.
While doctors use the idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis stage to estimate life expectancy, there is no way for anyone to accurately give an exact life expectancy.
These tools are meant to help doctors better understand the severity of your disease, estimate life expectancy and develop the best treatment plan for you.
What Can I Do To Improve My Health?
Although we’ve written on this topic extensively, it always bears repeating:
Quit smoking immediately if you’ve continued to do so after your diagnosis. Not only will actively smoking physically harm your lungs and worsen your diseases progression, but it will ultimately reduce your life span even further.
In no world is the benefit of smoking worth the cost of losing time with your family and grandchildren.
Eat healthy by upping your intake of protein (chicken, fish, lean meats) as well as your daily amount of fruits, vegetables and healthy grains.
The rules of a healthy diet are a bit simpler than we think. Choose whole grain bread instead of white bread. Eat less meat than you eat vegetables and fruits.
Look for plant based alternatives to meat when trying to take in more protein such as peanuts, almonds and cashews. Swap milk for almond or soy milk and avoid excessive consumption of fatty foods like fried foods and cheese.
Get out and exercise by starting today and not tomorrow. You don’t have to get a new gym membership in order to change your lifestyle for the better.
Walking is one of the best exercises out there, doesn’t require any special equipment and you’ve been doing it since you were a baby. Take 15 minutes today to get up and walk to the mailbox.
If that sounds easy, get up and walk down the street. If you’re still looking for a challenge, walk until you get tired then walk back.
The point is to challenge yourself and make your body work harder, get stronger and be able to better handle an exacerbation when one occurs without leaving you breathless.
A recent diagnosis of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis can be difficult to deal with. Particularly given that the cause is unknown, it can cause your quality of life and overall health to decline.
However, IPF isn’t universal in its life expectancy nor its effect on quality of life. In truth, the disease affects everyone differently depending on their personal health, genetic history and behavior.
Quitting smoking is a start, followed by a change in diet and improving one’s exercise. Each of these personal changes can have a profound effect on personal life expectancy for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
You just need to start today.
Always consult with your doctor to find the best treatment plan that will work best for you.
Christine Kingsley, APRN is the Health and Wellness Director at the Lung Institute where she focuses on providing helpful online resources for people looking for information on various lung diseases, breathing exercises, and healthy lifestyle choices. She advocates for holistic care that involves working with your doctor to explore all options including traditional and alternative care while focusing on diet and exercise as proactive measures.