Leading lung fibrosis charity Action For Pulmonary Fibrosis and DJ Janice Long have joined forces to campaign for Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) Week (which runs until September 20).
They hope to help drive greater recognition of the disease, and encourage more support for people living with IPF.
Their campaign is calling for people to recognise symptoms, such as persistent cough and breathlessness, and to ask their GPs to #ListenToOurLungs for the distinctive “velcro crackle” often associated with IPF.
Although a little-known disease, IPF is the fourth biggest respiratory killer in the UK.
Around 32,000 people are currently living with the disease.
Janice wants to increase understanding of the disease in memory of her late brother, the entertainer Keith Chegwin. He died of the condition in 2017.
“Before Keith was diagnosed, none of our family had heard of IPF,” Janice said. “It came as a total shock and everything happened so quickly.
“We had no idea how devastating this disease is, or how quickly the disease would worsen.
“It was a terrible time for Keith and the whole family as we all tried to support him and come to terms with his declining health. I’m calling on GPs to think of IPF and ‘listen to our lungs’ when people visit them with IPF symptoms.
“To support this we all need to be more aware of IPF and seek help if we have an ongoing cough or breathlessness.”
Don’t ignore symptoms
IPF is a disease defined by lung fibrosis (scarring). It can often be confused with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma or heart problems. Raising awareness of it has become even more critical during the pandemic.
At the moment, people may feel reluctant to visit their GP with their health concerns due to fear of infection. This causes further delays to referrals, treatment and management.
Dr Steve Holmes, GP, Shepton Mallet, Somerset said:
“As a GP with expertise in lung health, I can see how challenging caring for people with respiratory problems will be in a future with COVID-19 present.
“Healthcare professionals need to be informed on IPF and other forms of lung fibrosis so we can identify and diagnose patients correctly to best support them.
“Don’t ignore symptoms. The earlier we see you, the quicker we can provide help and reassurance, or refer you to the right place if needed.”
Click here to visit the Action For Pulmonary Fibrosis website.
For more health advice from “The People’s Friend”, click here.