Pulmonary Fibrosis - Symptoms

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What are the causes and symptoms of pulmonary fibrosis?

Symptoms of pulmonary fibrosis include:

  • shortness of breath,
  • coughing, and
  • diminished exercise tolerance.

Symptoms vary depending on the cause of the pulmonary fibrosis. The severity of symptoms and the progression (worsening) of symptoms over time can vary.

The most common form, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, has slow and relentless progression. Early on, patients often complain of a dry, unexplained cough. Often, slow and insidious onset of shortness of breath can set in. With time, dyspnea (shortness of breath) worsens. Dyspnea initially occurs only with activity and is often attributed to aging. Over time, the dyspnea occurs with little or no activity. Eventually, the shortness of breath becomes disabling, limiting all activity and even occurring while sitting still. In rarer cases, the fibrosis can be rapidly progressive, with dyspnea and disability occurring in weeks to months from the onset of the disease. This form of pulmonary fibrosis has been referred to as Hamman-Rich syndrome.

Return to Pulmonary Fibrosis

See what others are saying

Comment from: shirlmes, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: October 08

I now have serious pulmonary fibrosis. My knees, ankles and back are just giving me so much pain.

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Comment from: Judi, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: May 21

I am a registered nurse. I never smoked or drank. I worked at the same hospital for 47 years and just retired one year ago. My first symptoms were cough and shortness of breath. This was ongoing for 3 years. Chest x-ray only showed chronic bronchitis. Finally I went to the hospital and was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis. They did a 6 minute walk and my oxygen dropped to 72 the first 30 seconds. They put me on oxygen and I have it on continuous, 4 - 6 liters. That was only 6 months ago. Now I"ve gotten worse. To walk short distance it drops to 74 - 80 even with oxygen. I am on prednisone 20 mg daily. Doctor doesn"t give me much hope. He told me to call a hospice. I am not ready for that yet so I will choose to hold on to my faith and believe for healing. So sorry for all of you that are going through this too.

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