Identifying your specific type of chronic lung disease can be complicated. Many of them have symptoms or causes in common.
Common risk factors for both IPF and COPD include a family history of the disease, working in occupations that involve dust, chemicals and fumes, smoking and prolonged exposure to air pollutants.
Here, we explain the differences between 2 chronic lung conditions: idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
What is IPF?
IPF is the most common form of pulmonary fibrosis. “Idiopathic” means the underlying cause of the disease is unknown. As IPF develops, lung tissues become stiff, thick and scarred. This tissue scarring (fibrosis) makes breathing difficult and delays the flow of oxygen passing out of the lungs and into the bloodstream. Unfortunately, the physical damage is progressive and irreversible.
The primary symptoms of IPF are shortness of breath and a dry cough. You may also experience fatigue, joint aches, unintended weight loss and clubbing of fingers and toes.
What is COPD?
COPD is an inflammatory lung disease that affects the airways and air sacs within the respiratory system. When these delicate passageways in the lungs collapse, weaken or become inflamed, the body is unable to properly breathe in oxygen and expel carbon dioxide.
Symptoms of COPD are shortness of breath, wheezing, chest tightness, cough with mucus, swelling of the feet and legs, fatigue, unintended weight loss, and cyanosis of the fingers and lips.
How Is IPF Different from COPD?
While both conditions cause physical damage to the lungs, IPF causes scarring. The cause of IPF is unknown by the condition’s definition. IPF affects fewer people than COPD does. At around 200,000 people diagnosed in the United States, IPF is relatively rare. On the other end of the spectrum, the primary cause of COPD is well-documented — 90% of cases are linked to tobacco smoking. Unlike IPF, COPD is very common and affects more than 16 million people in the United States.
A few of the risk factors for IPF and COPD differ as well: Men are more likely than women to develop IPF and the majority of cases are diagnosed in people over the age of 60. Women are more likely than men to develop COPD and the majority of cases are diagnosed in people over the age of 40.
How Do You Treat IPF and COPD?
IPF and COPD are both chronic conditions that cannot be cured, but they can be treated. Treatment options like oxygen therapy, pulmonary rehabilitation and lifestyle changes — like avoiding exposure to cigarette smoke and pollutants — can all help control symptoms and improve lung function.
Can Cellular Therapy Help IPF and COPD?
At Lung Health Institute, our team is committed to helping patients find the best treatments available for chronic lung disease. One such option for IPF and COPD is cellular therapy. In cellular therapy treatment, the body’s own cells are used to protect the lungs, reduce inflammation and help prevent progression of lung damage.
Take the next step to find relief. Contact Lung Health Institute today for more information or to schedule a free consultation.