Pulmonary Fibrosis

What is pulmonary fibrosis?

Pulmonary fibrosis is a lung disease that causes scarring to build up in your lungs. This scarring makes your lung tissue thick and stiff instead of thin and flexible, which makes it hard for your lungs to work normally. Over time, pulmonary fibrosis can make breathing difficult.

Doctors aren't always sure what causes this scarring to form. In some cases, you can develop pulmonary fibrosis if you've had long-term exposure to breathing certain chemicals or substances. Certain diseases can also cause lung scarring, including:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Lupus
  • Pneumonia
  • Tuberculosis

Sometimes, there is no clear cause. This is called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

Symptoms of pulmonary fibrosis

The symptoms of pulmonary fibrosis affect people differently. For some, it starts slowly and gets worse over time. For others, it can become severe very quickly. Symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Dry cough (no mucus or phlegm)
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Fatigue
  • Weight loss

If you're experiencing symptoms, talk to your doctor. Your doctor will ask you questions about your symptoms and any risk factors or previous illnesses. You will get a physical exam, and you may need blood tests and/or imaging tests to look at your lungs. If you're having trouble breathing, your doctor may do tests to see how well you're breathing.

Pulmonary fibrosis treatment options

If you have pulmonary fibrosis, several treatment options are available. These include:

  • Medicines
  • Supplemental oxygen
  • Rehabilitation

If you have severe pulmonary fibrosis, you may eventually need a lung transplant. Talk to your doctor to see which treatment options are right for you.



Main Line Health’s lung health experts and pulmonology specialists treat a wide range of conditions that affect the lungs and respiratory tract.

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