What Is Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis? Answered by Our Newport Beach & Foothill Ranch, CA, Pulmonologist
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a lung disease that prevents you from breathing properly. IPF causes scar tissue to grow in your lungs, stopping oxygen from getting to the air sacs and into your bloodstream. It gets worse over time and puts you at higher risk for serious problems like stroke and heart attack. Our Newport Beach and Foothill Ranch, CA, pulmonologist explains more below.
Symptoms of IPF
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis can go on for years without any symptoms. However, as the scarring worsens, you may experience:
- A persistent dry, hacking cough
- Loss of appetite
- Joint aches
- Swelling of the legs
- Shortness of breath
- Chest tightness or pain
If you have any of these symptoms, you should contact our doctor for an evaluation. The sooner you begin treatment, the sooner the scarring is slowed down — and the better your outcome will be.
Pollution, certain medicines, and infection are all risk factors for developing IPF; however, there is no known root cause (idiopathic meaning the cause is unknown). Other factors that make you more likely to get IPF:
- Age (being over 50)
- Breathing in metal or wood dust
- Being male
- Having a family member with lung disease
- Acid reflux
Diagnosis & Treatment
Generally, tests for IPF include chest X-rays, exercise tests, pulse oximetry, or a chest CT scan. Other tests include biopsies and spirometry, where you breathe into a device that measures how much air you are able to blow out. If you are diagnosed with IPF, some treatments include:
- Medicines to slow lung scarring and damage
- Inhaled corticosteroids to ease inflammation
- Pulmonary rehabilitation
- Oxygen therapy
Maintaining a healthy diet and a reasonable amount of exercise is also important. In certain cases, lung transplants may be a possibility. Our doctor will determine which combination of treatments is right for you.