The campaign "When breathing is asphyxiating", launched today, when World Pulmonary Fibrosis Awareness month is scheduled, involves the Respira Association, the Portuguese Lung Foundation and the Portuguese Pulmonology Society.

This initiative aims to alert to the importance of early diagnosis, warning that the progression of fibrosis is irreversible and that many cases are still diagnosed late, as "there are patients who take four, five years or more before getting an accurate diagnosis".

António Morais recalled that the symptoms of these diseases "are not very specific, nor alarming symptoms", noting that usually it is a cough and inability to exert effort.

"Initially [this incapacity] is slight and, sometimes, it is not taken into account by the patient, who is often an elderly patient who thinks that it is normal during the course of his/her life and lets themselves be until it is frankly notorious," he explained.

The specialist alerted that it is important for patients to go to their family doctor so if they start to feel some incapacity, and a cough that persists.

The specialist recalled that these symptoms "maybe in heart diseases, in more frequent respiratory diseases, such as COPD [Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease], but if [doctors] look for this and do not find it, there are other possibilities of diagnostic hypotheses that are important to screen".

He recalled that, in addition to idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis - the "most challenging" and the one that has more weight in the group of fibrotic diseases - there are others that already have for three years indication to take therapy that helps to slow down the evolution and that it is necessary to pay attention so that the drug is given at the right time.

"We cannot cure the disease, as it is not a curable disease", explained the specialist, insisting that, in the case of fibrotic diseases that are already indicated for therapy, it is important to "introduce antifibrotic medication when the criteria for progression of the disease occur".

Therefore, he insisted on the importance of early diagnosis, explaining: "as drugs delay evolution, the sooner they are used, the more we gain".

Pulmonary fibrosis is a disease in which there is scarring of the lung tissue and, as a result, the brain, heart and other body tissues and organs do not receive the oxygen necessary for their proper functioning.