Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a type of lung disease that results in scarring (fibrosis) of the lungs for an unknown reason. Over time, the scarring gets worse and it becomes hard to take in a deep breath and the lungs cannot take in enough oxygen. The lung damage caused by pulmonary fibrosis can’t be repaired, but medications and therapies can sometimes help ease symptoms and improve quality of life. For some people, a lung transplant might be appropriate.
fig— IPF bronchial Tube
- Shortness of breath (dyspnea)
- A dry cough
- Unexplained weight loss
- Aching muscles and joints
- Widening and rounding of the tips of the fingers or toes (clubbing)
Causes: Occupational and environmental factors
Long-term exposure to a number of toxins and pollutants can damage your lungs. These include:
- Silica dust, tobacco smoke, viruses
- Asbestos fibers
- Hard metal dusts
- Coal dust
- Grain dust
- Bird and animal droppings
Some people who receive radiation therapy for lung or breast cancer show signs of lung damage months or sometimes years after the initial treatment. The severity of the damage may depend on:
- How much of the lung was exposed to radiation
- The total amount of radiation administered
- Whether chemotherapy also was used
- The presence of underlying lung disease
Many drugs can damage your lungs, especially medications such as:
- Chemotherapy drugs. Drugs designed to kill cancer cells, such as methotrexate (Trexall, Otrexup, others) and cyclophosphamide, can also damage lung tissue.
- Heart medications. Some drugs used to treat irregular heartbeats, such as amiodarone (Cordarone, Nexterone, Pacerone), may harm lung tissue.
- Some antibiotics. Antibiotics such as nitrofurantoin (Macrobid, Macrodantin, others) or ethambutol can cause lung damage.
- Anti-inflammatory drugs. Certain anti-inflammatory drugs such as rituximab (Rituxan) or sulfasalazine (Azulfidine) can cause lung damage.
Lung damage can also result from a number of conditions, including:
- Mixed connective tissue disease
- Systemic lupus erythematosus
- Rheumatoid arthritis
Many people with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis may also have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) — a condition that occurs when acid from your stomach flows back into your esophagus.