logo waht new


Nursing staff raise awareness of pulmonary fibrosis, lung disease

22 September 2017


This week, nursing staff at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust have been raising awareness of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), one of the many forms of lung disease.

This incurable disease affects about 8,700 new people in the UK, each year.  Sadly, a person diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) will have a limited life expectancy, and this disease accounts for about 1% of deaths in the UK. In Worcestershire, we are building a detailed record of local patients living with IPF so that we can improve the rates of diagnosis, treatment and life expectancy in the county. 

The nursing team at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital have been raising awareness of this disease to help encourage patients, public and staff to check for symptoms, seek a diagnosis and start treatment.  The team hosted a stand at Worcestershire Royal, offered visitors by an opportunity to test lung function, using a spirometer.

Nancy Howard, Respiratory Nurse Specialist, said:

“We are delighted to promote pulmonary fibrosis awareness week. The stand is a great way to raise awareness and funding for more research into this disease.  We treat and support patients in Worcestershire living with this disease and see the devastating effects it has on them, their friends and family.” 

Diagnosis of this illness is difficult. People usually present with progressive breathlessness especially during physical activity, and with persistent cough.  A doctor will need to do several different tests including breathing tests and a chest X-ray, before referring you on to a local respiratory consultant for more detailed investigations.  This service is available at all our Hospitals as part of our outpatient services.  Treatment aims to slow the scaring and manage the symptoms so that the person feels better and has an improved quality of life.

The actual cause of IPF is unknown but researchers believe that the body creates fibrosis (scaring) in response to damage in the lung.  The initial damage might be from:

  • Acid reflux in the stomach
  • Viruses – in some studies IPF has been linked to certain viruses such as Epstein Barr, glandular fever, herpes and hepatitis C as possible causes.
  • Environmental factors such as breathing in kinds of dusts – it’s more common if you’ve’ been exposed at work to dust from wood, metal, textiles or stone or from cattle or farming.

For more information on Action for Pulmonary Fibrosis awareness, please visit their website: www.actionpulmonaryfibrosis.org or follow the charity on twitter @ActionPFcharity using the hashtag #IPFweek

If you have any concerns about persistent unexplained breathlessness and cough, please arrange an appointment to visit your GP