86% of Americans Do Not Know Symptoms of Pulmonary Fibrosis






Contact: Claire Vartabedian
L.C. Williams & Associates


86% of Americans Do Not Know Symptoms of Pulmonary Fibrosis

Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation National Awareness Survey Reveals
Little Understanding of Disease in Advance of Rare Disease Week

(CHICAGO) Feb. 24, 2020 – A survey conducted by the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (PFF) reveals that a vast majority of Americans (86%) do not know the symptoms of pulmonary fibrosis (PF). While 50,000 new cases are diagnosed annually, the disease remains largely unknown.

“Awareness of PF and its symptoms remains very low, and for many, the first time they hear of it is when they are diagnosed,” said William Schmidt, president and CEO of the PFF. “Improving understanding of this disease can help drive earlier diagnoses and encourage support for needed research, so that we can ultimately find a cure for PF.”

More than 200,000 Americans are living with PF, a progressive and debilitating disease that leads to scarring of the lungs, with no known cure. Symptoms include persistent, dry cough, shortness of breath and fatigue.

At-risk Populations Remain Unaware

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), the most common form of PF, has no known cause. However, there are some populations that are more at-risk for IPF, including those over the age of 60 and those with a history of smoking.

  • Of those aged 60 and over, 91% do not know the symptoms of PF and 96% have never talked to their doctor about PF.
  • Among those who currently smoke or have smoked, more than 80% do not know the symptoms of PF, and only 9% have ever talked to their doctor about the disease.
  • Significantly, those with a history of smoking are three times more likely to have had PF or known someone affected by PF.


    Symptoms Prompt Doctor Visits

    When faced with the symptoms of PF, Americans say they would seek medical attention quickly.

  • 80% of Americans would see a doctor if they experienced shortness of breath for longer than a month.
  • Nearly 4 in 5 (78%) Americans would go to the doctor if they had symptoms of a lingering cough and fatigue.
  • 1 in 2 Americans would wait less than 3 weeks to visit a doctor if they had symptoms of a lingering cough and fatigue.


“Because many symptoms of PF are similar to those of other illnesses, like the common cold, it can be difficult to diagnose and treat, leading to late stage diagnoses,” said Schmidt. “Our national survey results show a clear need to increase understanding of PF, so patients are better able to recognize the early signs of the disease and start conversations with their physicians.”

Focusing on a Cure

Despite the overall lack of awareness of PF symptoms, 82% of Americans consider PF to be a serious disease. About 1 in 2 Americans (49%) say that finding a cure for PF is very important and 61% of Americans are unsure if there will be a cure for PF within their lifetime.

"This national survey and the PFF’s awareness efforts are critical to ensuring that Americans understand PF, its symptoms and risk factors, and engaging people nationwide in fighting this serious lung disease,” said Schmidt.

For more information about pulmonary fibrosis, please visit To download the full report, click here.


About the Survey

The Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation National Awareness Survey was administered online to 2,013 adults in the United States. The margin of error is +/- 2 percentage points with a confidence interval of 95 percent. The fieldwork was performed between January 9 and January 10, 2020 by Atomik Research, an independent creative market research agency.

About the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation

The Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation (PFF) mobilizes people and resources to provide access to high quality care and leads research for a cure so people with pulmonary fibrosis will live longer, healthier lives. The PFF collaborates with physicians, organizations, patients, and caregivers worldwide. The PFF has a three-star rating from Charity Navigator and is a Better Business Bureau accredited charity.  For more information, visit or call 844.TalkPFF (844.825.5733) or 312.587.9272 from outside the U.S.