The movie “Five Feet Apart”, in theaters today, features two teenagers with cystic fibrosis who spend much of their time living in a hospital and fall in love. A nurse orders them to stay six feet apart, the distance a germ can travel through the air. This is typical for people with cystic fibrosis who have to stay a minimum of six feet apart from one another to keep away from sharing potentially life-threatening infections. Though touching is off limits, the protagonists decide to break the six feet rule and push their boundaries a little to get closer to one another by one foot, hence the title “Five Feet Apart”. The movie is essentially a romance, but also deals with issues of how patients and families deal with a serious illness such as cystic fibrosis and how it affects people in different ways.

In light of this movie “Five Feet Apart” that raises awareness of cystic fibrosis and the challenges of this condition, we thought it is a good time to talk about cystic fibrosis and pulmonary fibrosis. Although both cystic fibrosis and pulmonary fibrosis impact normal breathing and require supplemental oxygen for management, we would like to highlight some differences between the two conditions:

  
  
  
  
  CYSTIC FIBROSIS
  
  
  PULMONARY FIBROSIS
  
  CAUSES
  
  Genetic Mutation
  
  Environmental causes, Infections, Inflammation, certain Medications,
  Acid Reflux Disease
  
  PRESENTATION
  
  Airways filled with sticky mucous that makes it hard to breathe and
  traps infection-causing bacteria
  
  Abnormal thickening due to scarring/fibrosis of airways that makes it
  hard to breathe
  
  TYPICAL AGE
  
  Present from birth
  
  50 – 70 years but can occur at a younger age
  
  HOW DIAGNOSED
  
  Genetic Tests that look for the Cystic Fibrosis mutation, Sweat Test
  
  Lung Function Tests, High Resolution CT scans (HRCT)
  
  MAIN SYMPTOMS/ COMPLICATIONS
  
  Troubled Breathing, increased risk of Respiratory Infections,
  Digestive problems resulting in stunted growth
  
  Shortness of Breath, Chronic Dry Cough, Clubbing of fingers, right
  Heart Failure in the later stages
  
  ORGANS AFFECTED
  
  Many organ systems including Respiratory, Digestive, Urinary and
  Reproductive Systems
  
  Respiratory System
  
  TREATMENTS
  
  Antibiotics to prevent and treat infections, Bronchodilators to help
  open airways and Supportive treatment to move mucus and clear airways
  
  Drugs that slow progression, Steroids, Anti-oxidants, Pulmonary
  Rehabilitation
  
  ETHNIC DISTRIBUTION
  
  Most common among Caucasians, rare among other ethnic groups
  
  Can affect all ethnic groups
  
  ALTERNATIVE THERAPY
  
  Nutritional supplements, Herbs, Homeopathy, Acupuncture, Massage,
  Yoga, Breathing Exercises, Systemic Enzymes
  

Please visit our website pulmonaryfibrosisnow.org for more information and join/like our Facebook page to help us in our efforts to use research, interactive learning and self-monitoring to increase awareness and educate the public about all treatments including natural, supplemental and alternative therapies to treat respiratory diseases.

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