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What are signs and symptoms of pulmonary fibrosis?

Signs and symptoms of pulmonary fibrosis include:

  • Shortness of breath (dyspnea), including shortness of breath with everyday activities
  • Coughing (chronic, dry, hacking cough)
  • Diminished exercise tolerance
  • Fast, shallow breathing
  • Fatigue/tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Chest discomfort
  • Muscle and joint aches
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained/unintended weight loss
  • "Clubbing" of the tips of the fingers and toes (thickening of flesh under the nails, causing a widening and rounding appearance

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

Return to Pulmonary Fibrosis

See what others are saying

Comment from: Judy, 65-74 Female (Patient) Published: April 14

I had breast cancer in 1990. Maybe a couple years later smoke really started to bother me. Just walking into restaurants, I'd hold my breath just to get past the smokers standing near the door. In 2009 I had a liver transplant, and prior to that I was hospitalized 8 weeks. I had my lungs tapped several times while there and I had numerous chest x-rays and CAT scans and also a PET scan. After the transplant they took chest x-rays daily for 10 days, then twice a week and a few more before I was discharged. I started oxygen for my pulmonary fibrosis in 2002. Now it is 24/7 and up to 5 liters. Our 50th wedding anniversary is in June and my daughter is getting married in July, I plan to be there.

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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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Comment from: Hopeful, Female (Patient) Published: December 10

I have had idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) since 2010. I am on oxygen, 2 to 3 liters. I am fine sitting. My oxygen is 95 to 98 sitting, but it drops dramatically on standing. I go to lung rehabilitation 3 days a week.

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