Pulmonary Fibrosis

Medical Author:
Medical Editor:

What is pulmonary fibrosis?

"Fibrosis" is a term used to refer to scarring, so pulmonary fibrosis means scarring throughout the lungs. Pulmonary fibrosis can be caused by many conditions including chronic inflammatory processes (sarcoidosis, Wegener's granulomatosis), infections, environmental agents (asbestos, silica, exposure to certain gases), exposure to ionizing radiation (such as radiation therapy to treat tumors of the chest), chronic conditions (lupus, rheumatoid arthritis), and certain medications.

In a condition known as hypersensitivity pneumonitis, fibrosis of the lung can develop following a heightened immune reaction to inhaled organic dusts or occupational chemicals. This condition most often results from inhaling dust contaminated with bacterial, fungal, or animal products.

In some people, chronic pulmonary inflammation and fibrosis develop without an identifiable cause. Most of these people have a condition called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) that does not respond to medical therapy, while some of the other types of fibrosis, such as nonspecific interstitial pneumonitis (NSIP), may respond to immune suppressive therapy.

Synonyms (other names) for various types of pulmonary fibrosis that have been used in the past include chronic interstitial pneumonitis, Hamman-Rich syndrome, and diffuse fibrosing alveolitis.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/8/2014

Patient Comments

Viewers share their comments

Pulmonary Fibrosis - Treatments Question: What treatments have been helpful with your pulmonary fibrosis?
Pulmonary Fibrosis - Experience Question: If known, what was the cause of your pulmonary fibrosis? Please share your experience.
Pulmonary Fibrosis - Symptoms Question: What were your symptoms associated with pulmonary fibrosis?