What is IPF? Dentists are dying of this rare, incurable lung disease

What is IPF? Dentists are dying of this rare, incurable lung disease

Health authorities are trying to determine why dentists are dying, after discovering an unusual pattern in lung disease cases.

So far, health officials have identified nine dentists or dental workers who were diagnosed with the disease, called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, all of whom were treated at the same specialty clinic in Virginia, according to the report, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC's study of more than 900 patients over 20 years has found cases of IPF in nine male patients, including eight dentists and one dental technician, seven of whom had already died. During these tasks, a dental worker would have been exposed to silica and other compounds with known or potential respiratory toxicity.

A new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has revealed that dentists mysteriously die of fatal lung diseases than that of the general population in a Virginia Hospital over the last two decades.

Immediately after the analysis, another dentist was diagnosed with IPF at the same tertiary clinic, according to the CDC paper.

"We do work with materials and with human bioproducts that are potentially damaging to our bodies if we inhale them", Dr. Paul Casamassimo, chief policy officer of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry Pediatric Oral Health and Research Center, told CNN. "Inhalational exposures experienced by dentists likely increase their risk for certain work-related respiratory diseases".

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Of total 894 patients, nine patients had been suffering from Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) over nearly two decades among which seven had already died, as per the CDC report.

Overall, dentists made up 1 percent of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis cases seen at the clinic. National Institutes of Health explain. This thicker lung tissue prevents oxygen from properly getting into the blood, meaning organs such as the brain and the heart don't get a sufficient supply.

Still, the researchers only found an association between dental work and this lung disease, and can not say for certain whether the work did indeed cause the disease. It is characterized by progressive scarring within the lungs, and a median survival rate of just three to five years.

One possible cause of the problem is the fact that the dentists may not wear protective gear while using chemicals and dental appliances that might affect the lung.

'These exposures include bacteria, viruses, dust, gases, radiation, and other respiratory hazards'. The initial stage, symptoms that most of the patient's experience is dry chronic cough, joint and muscle pain, weight loss, clubbed fingers and toes, as well as shortness of breath.

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