A lingering, dry cough is a common complaint of anyone getting over a winter cold or the flu. But that common ailment is also one of the telltale signs of a progressive, debilitating lung disease with no known cure: pulmonary fibrosis (PF). Pulmonary fibrosis means scarring in the lungs that, over time, can destroy the normal lung and make it hard for oxygen to get into the blood.
More than 50,000 new cases of PF are diagnosed annually and more than 200,000 Americans are currently living with the disease. In addition to a lingering, dry cough, the most common symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest discomfort
- Loss of appetite/unexplained weight loss
PF is more likely to occur in those that are 60 years and older with a history of smoking. There are additional factors that put thousands of Americans at higher risk for pulmonary fibrosis, including a family history of interstitial lung disease, the use of certain medications and occupations like construction, mining and farming. Early diagnosis is crucial to starting treatments that may slow disease progression.