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What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis?

The signs and symptoms of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) develop over time. They may not even begin to appear until the disease has done serious damage to your lungs. Once they occur, they're likely to get worse over time.

The most common signs and symptoms are:

  • Shortness of breath. This usually is the main symptom of IPF. At first, you may be short of breath only during exercise. Over time, you'll likely feel breathless even at rest.
  • A dry, hacking cough that doesn't get better. Over time, you may have repeated bouts of coughing that you can't control.

Other signs and symptoms that you may develop over time include:

  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Gradual, unintended weight loss
  • Fatigue (tiredness) or malaise (a general feeling of being unwell)
  • Aching muscles and joints
  • Clubbing, which is the widening and rounding of the tips of the fingers or toes

Clubbing

The illustration shows clubbing of the fingertips associated with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

The illustration shows clubbing of the fingertips associated with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

IPF may lead to other medical problems, including a collapsed lung, lung infections, blood clots in the lungs, and lung cancer.

As the disease worsens, you may develop other potentially life-threatening conditions, including respiratory failure, pulmonary hypertension, and heart failure.

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Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are research studies that explore whether a medical strategy, treatment, or device is safe and effective for humans. To find clinical trials that are currently underway for Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, visit www.clinicaltrials.gov.


Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis in the News

May 19, 2014
Common treatment for patients with chronic, progressive lung disease found to be ineffective
A drug used to treat patients with mild to moderate lung damage from the disease idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is no better than placebo for preserving lung function, according to a study supported by the National Institutes of Health. The finding is in the final report of a clinical trial called Prednisone, Azathioprine, and N-Acetylcysteine: A Study That Evaluates Response in Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (PANTHER-IPF).

View all Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Press Releases

 
September 20, 2011 Last Updated Icon

The NHLBI updates Health Topics articles on a biennial cycle based on a thorough review of research findings and new literature. The articles also are updated as needed if important new research is published. The date on each Health Topics article reflects when the content was originally posted or last revised.