Pulmonary Fibrosis: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 9/10/2019

Pulmonary fibrosis is the process of scarring that occurs throughout the lungs.

Signs and symptoms of pulmonary fibrosis occur due to difficulty breathing (dyspnea), regardless of the cause. The scarring within the lung makes it difficult for the body to obtain enough oxygen during breathing. Symptoms and signs include shortness of breath, dry cough, clubbing of the fingers or toes, fatigue, muscle aches, decreased exercise tolerance, joint discomfort, mild fever, ankle swelling, and weight loss.

Causes of pulmonary fibrosis

It is not one disease but occurs as a result of many different conditions. Causes of pulmonary fibrosis can include asbestosis, sarcoidosis, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, and some medications. It can also occur in the absence of an identifiable cause; in this case, it is referred to as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

Other pulmonary fibrosis symptoms and signs

  • Ankle Swelling
  • Clubbing of the Fingers and Toes
  • Dry Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Joint Discomfort
  • Mild Fever
  • Muscle Aches
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Weight Loss


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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.