Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis What Is Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis?
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a serious chronic (long term) disease that affects the tissue surrounding the air sacs, or alveoli, in the lungs. This condition develops when that lung tissue becomes thick and stiff for unknown reasons. Over time, these changes can cause permanent scarring in the lungs, called fibrosis, that makes it progressively more difficult to breathe.
Your risk for IPF is higher if you smoke or have a family history of IPF, and the risk increases with age. The most common symptoms of IPF are shortness of breath and cough. Some people may not have symptoms at first, but symptoms can develop and get worse as the disease progresses.
The way that IPF progresses varies from person to person, and scarring may happen slowly or quickly. In some people, the disease stays the same for years. In other people, the condition quickly gets worse. Many people with IPF also experience what are known as acute exacerbations, where symptoms suddenly become much more serious. Other complications of IPF include pulmonary hypertension and respiratory failure, which happen when the lungs cannot deliver enough oxygen into the bloodstream without support. This prevents the brain and other organs from getting the oxygen they need.
There is currently no cure for IPF. However, certain treatments may slow the progression of IPF and help your lungs work better. This may extend the lifespan and improve the quality of life of people who have the disease.