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What is IPF?
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How Does This happen?
ILD is a condition where as the interstitium initially becomes inflamed. This is the part of the lung which includes a portion of the connective tissue of the blood vessels and air sacs that make up the membrane where gas exchange takes place. This inflammation then invades the air sacs (alveoli) resulting in alveolitis. The alveoli are very much akin to little bellows. They fill with air on inhale and then expel the oxygen into the blood stream by contracting. Then they absorb Carbon Monoxide from the blood when they inflate. This is then carried out of the body by exhaling. A rather simplified explanation but one I have come to view as sufficient at least for my needs.
If the inflammation is not brought under control it results in scarring or fibrosis, a stiffening of the lung tissue. This, when it occurs, is a permanent condition. Often it is likened to a honeycomb appearance and so is also referred to as honeycomb or honey lung. You do not have to have injured the lung or caused a traumatic situation to occur in order to contract ILD. It may have been nothing more serious than inhaling when you should have exhaled or perhaps just plain held your breath. Maybe you should not have helped your neighbour with the haying last year. Who knows?
How Will I Know if I Have it?
Few of you will have much interest in this. I mean you are here right? You most likely already know you have it! However, on the off chance some of you are just surfing and misspelled a word to find yourself here this is for you! I won't bother with the obvious things such as short of breath cyanosis etc etc. I will relate to you the symptoms I had before I was diagnosed that should have tipped me off. It's the old "If I knew then what I know now!" thing.
There are lots of "look for this and look for that's" out there. Most of them are pretty much common sense and if anyone noticed that happening few if any would NOT go to a doctor. What I will tell you is how I knew. No I didn't know at first and in fact didn't know until I was diagnosed that there was even anything seriously wrong with me. Once I was diagnosed however, thinking back I SHOULD have known a long time before I did! Even so I was as lucky as the Turkey who got through Thanksgiving! They still managed to find my disease very early in it's development. What really ticks me is that I ignored or covered up the tell tail signs for a long time before that. We fools seem to be right up there with the suckers - "There's one born every minute!" What I want to tell you is how you can load the dice in your favour for a change. There is some soul searching required and some honest self evaluation but coupled with what is on the net for symptoms you could have a jump on it. I sure as H - - - hope so anyway!
The way I see it if you can read, and I assume since you are here you can do that, then if you are gasping for air, turning blue, your fingers and toes are clubbing and your chest sounds like a babies rattle you are more than likely to have seen a doctor long ago and this isn't going to do you a load of good! So here goes. These diseases are not the type that present themselves in a flamboyant and obvious manner. They generally can be quite devious. You may get a little cough that is nothing more than annoying. Next you find that perhaps on occasion taking a shower get you a little bit out of puff, or maybe changing that tire or even your daily walk seems to suck the life right out of you. At least more than it has in the past.
A lot of people notice this happening around the time they are middle aged. If a child gets winded or wears down easily it is noticeable, not so with older people. Generally most will pass it off as the aging process. Hey I'm headed for 50 what do you expect? Sadly it doesn't become an issue until at 60 or 65 they realize they can't keep up with those who are 80 and older. Now there is something not quite right! By then it is also all too late. If you want to know how late check the transplant lists and see how many over 60 are on it!
So if you find that you just don't seem to be able to keep up with those your own age give or take ten years; If you feel completely worn out, even if only occasionally, when performing some menial task that shouldn't really slow you down at all; or you find that the temperature bothers you more than it used to, then perhaps it is time for you to take an assessment of your state of health.
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