What is Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis?


Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a lung disease characterized by scarring of the lungs in which the cause is unknown. 


The primary symptom associated with IPF is shortness of breath. Most often, those who have IPF find that they cannot do normal activities without having to stop and catch their breath. Climbing stairs or simply taking a walk may become difficult. 

When the oxygen levels in your blood drop it can lead to high blood pressure in your lungs, which is otherwise known as pulmonary hypertension. Over time, pulmonary hypertension can put added strain on your heart and can lead to heart failure if blood oxygen levels aren’t treated. 

Other common symptoms of pulmonary fibrosis include:

  • Chronic dry, hacking cough
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Discomfort in the chest
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss

For more information about IPF, visit the idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis page on the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation website

How is IPF Treated? 

Upon receiving a diagnosis of IPF, it is critical that you begin regular follow-up with a pulmonologist who has expertise in the disease. Besides being able to point you to ways to manage your symptoms, such as supplemental oxygen and pulmonary rehabilitation, your pulmonologist can get you started on drug treatments, explore options for a lung transplant, or clinical trials. 

For more information on treatment options, read the American Thoracic Society’s Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Patient Resource Guide (PDF). 

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