What is Pulmonary Fibrosis?


Interstitial lung disease is the name given to a large group of diseases that inflame or scar the lungs. The scarring itself is called pulmonary fibrosis. 

According to the American Thoracic Society, pulmonary fibrosis (PF) describes a group of lung diseases in which thickening of the walls of the air sacs (call alveoli), caused by scarring, can result in cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, and low blood oxygen levels.

What Causes Pulmonary Fibrosis? 

Pulmonary fibrosis can be caused by a variety of factors including the use of certain medications or drugs known to affect the lungs, or exposure to radiation, environmental, autoimmune, or occupational.

In most cases the cause of the scarring is unknown. In this case, the diagnosis is idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

How Pulmonary Fibrosis Impacts the Body

The Chest Foundation explains that fibrosis stiffens the lungs, reducing their size and capacity. The decrease in lung function can be observed on breathing tests, also known as lung function tests which may be used to diagnose or monitor pulmonary fibrosis over time. As the fibrosis progresses, it may become harder to breathe and patients are often prescribed oxygen to help assist them in breathing. 

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