i-de-o-PA-thic PUL-mo-nar-e fi-BRO-sis
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a chronic disease. It causes inflammation and fibrosis (scarring) of tissue in the lungs. It occurs most often in people aged 50-70.
Idiopathic means the cause is not known.
Researchers think that IPF is an exaggerated and uncontrolled inflammatory response. This produces the scar tissue. What starts the cycle is not known. Over time, scarring surrounds the thin walled air sacs in the lungs. This makes the tissue thicker and stiffer. As a result, breathing becomes difficult. The lungs gradually lose their ability to pass oxygen to the rest of the body.
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Although the cause of IPF is not known, the factors below may increase the risk of getting it:
Over time, the symptoms get worse. This makes daily activities difficult. People with IPF gradually start to have some or all of these symptoms:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. One or more of the following tests may be performed:
There is no known cure. The goal of treatment is to improve symptoms and slow the disease process. This is done by reducing inflammation and scarring. The tissue that is already scarred cannot be returned to normal.
Medication is the main form of treatment. It does not work for some people. Options may include:
GERD will need to be treated. This most often involves the use of medication and lifestyle changes.
There is no proven way to prevent IPF. However, avoiding smoking may help.
Last reviewed January 2009 by Rosalyn Carson-DeWitt, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.