Pulmonary Fibrosis

  • Medical Author:
    George Schiffman, MD, FCCP

    Dr. Schiffman received his B.S. degree with High Honors in biology from Hobart College in 1976. He then moved to Chicago where he studied biochemistry at the University of Illinois, Chicago Circle. He attended Rush Medical College where he received his M.D. degree in 1982 and was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society. He completed his Internal Medicine internship and residency at the University of California, Irvine.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Understanding COPD Slideshow Pictures

Causes of Shortness of Breath

Causes of shortness of breath include

  • pulmonary fibrosis,
  • asthma,
  • bronchitis,
  • anemia,
  • lung cancer,
  • congestive heart failure,
  • interstitial lung disease, and
  • tuberculosis.

Pulmonary fibrosis facts

  • Pulmonary fibrosis refers to scarring of the lung tissue (fibrosis of the lungs).
  • Symptoms of pulmonary fibrosis include
  • The most common type of pulmonary fibrosis is called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis; its cause is not understood.
  • A number of different medical conditions can also cause pulmonary fibrosis.
  • Causes of pulmonary fibrosis can include
    • environmental toxins,
    • medications, chronic inflammation, and
    • infections.
  • Treatment options for pulmonary fibrosis are limited as the disease is progressive (worsening over time).
  • The prognosis (outlook) is poor for pulmonary fibrosis. The survival (life expectancy) for most patients is less than 5 years.

What is pulmonary fibrosis?

"Fibrosis" is a term used to refer to scarring, so pulmonary fibrosis means scarring throughout the lungs.

What causes pulmonary fibrosis?

Pulmonary fibrosis can be caused by many conditions including

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 8/11/2015

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