Pulmonary fibrosis: Scarring throughout the lungs that can be caused by many conditions, such as sarcoidosis, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, asbestosis, and certain medications. Pulmonary fibrosis can also occur without an identifiable cause, in which case it is referred to as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Symptoms include shortness of breath, coughing, and diminished exercise tolerance. Treatment involves use of corticosteroids (such as prednisone) and/or other medications that suppress the body's immune system. The goal of treatment is to decrease lung inflammation and subsequent scarring. Responses to treatment vary. Toxicity and side effects of treatment can be serious. Therefore, patients with pulmonary fibrosis are generally cared for by lung specialists.
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Last Editorial Review: 5/13/2016