Pulmonary fibrosis Symptoms and Causes

Pulmonary fibrosis Symptoms Causes

This is a lung disease which is happening when the lung tissue becomes scarred and damaged. When the tissue is stiff and thickened, then it makes more difficult for your lungs to work properly. As this disease progresses, you may become progressively more short of breath. There can be many different factors which can cause scarring associated with the pulmonary fibrosis. In the most cases, doctors cannot tell what the real cause for pulmonary fibrosis is. When a cause for pulmonary fibrosis cannot be found, then this condition is termed as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis [1]. The lung damage that is caused by this disease cannot be repaired. There are some medications and therapies which can ease the symptoms of this disease and they can improve the quality of life of affected person. There are some cases when a lung transplant might be appropriate.

Pulmonary fibrosis Symptoms

Symptoms: Here are the signs and symptoms of pulmonary fibrosis:

The severity of the symptoms and the course of pulmonary fibrosis can vary from one person to another. There are some cases when people become ill very quickly with severe disease. Other people can have moderate symptoms which can worsen more slowly and this is happening over months or years. There are some people who can experience a rapid worsening of their symptoms (this is known as acute exacerbation) [2], such as severe shortness of breath which can last for several days to weeks. Those people who have acute exacerbations may be placed on a mechanical ventilator. Also doctors can prescribe corticosteroid medications, antibiotics or other medications as a treatment for the acute exacerbation.

Pulmonary fibrosis Symptoms Causes

Pulmonary fibrosis Symptoms Causes

Causes: This disease scars and thickens the tissue between and around alveoli (air sacs) in your lungs. This is making more difficult for the oxygen to pass into your bloodstream. There are many factors which can cause this damage, such as some medications, radiation therapy, certain medical conditions and long – term exposure to certain toxins.

  1. Medical conditions: There are many different conditions which could lead to lung damage [3], such as
  • Pneumonia
  • Scleroderma
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Mixed connective tissue disease
  • Polymyositis
  • Dermatomyositis
  1. Medications: There are many drugs which can cause damage to your lungs, such as
  • Anti – inflammatory drugs: There are some anti – inflammatory drugs, such as sulfasalzine (Azulfidine) and rituximab (Rituxan) which can cause lung damage.
  • Some antibiotics: There are some antibiotics, such as ethambutol and nitrofurantoin (Macrodantin, Macrobid and others) that could lead to lung damage.
  • Heart medications: There are some drugs which are used to treat irregular heartbeats, such as amiodarone (Pacerone, Nexterone and Cordarone) which could harm the lung tissue.
  • Chemotherapy drugs: Those drugs which are designed to kill cancer cells, such as cyclophosphamide and methotrexate (Otrexup, Trexall and others) can damage your lung tissue. [4]
  1. Radiation treatments: There are some people who receive radiation therapy for breast or lung cancer and they notice signs of lung damage months or sometimes years after the initial treatment [5]. The severity of the lung damage can depend on:
  • The presence of underlying lung disease
  • Whether chemotherapy also was used
  • The total amount of radiation therapy
  • How much of the lung was exposed to radiation
  1. Occupational and environmental factors: The long – term exposure to many different toxins and pollutants can cause damage to your lungs. These factors are:
  • Bird and animal droppings
  • Grain dust
  • Coal dust
  • Hard metal dusts
  • Asbestos fibers
  • Silica dust

There are many conditions and substances which could lead to pulmonary fibrosis but in the most cases the cause for this disease is not found. When the cause is not found, then it is called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. The idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is more likely to affect men that women. The pulmonary fibrosis has been diagnosed in infants and children but it is more likely to happen in middle – aged and older adults. People, who smoke and former smokers have more chances of getting pulmonary fibrosis that people who have never smoked.


[1] Raghu G. Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis: lessons from clinical trials over the past 25 years. European Respiratory Journal. 2017;50(4).

[2] Song JW, Hong SB, Lim CM, et al. Acute exacerbation of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis: incidence, risk factors and outcome. European Respiratory Journal. 2011;37(2):356-63.

[3] McDonough JE, Ahangari F, Li Q, et al. Transcriptional regulatory model of fibrosis progression in the human lung. JCI Insight. 2019;4(22).

[4] Libura J, Bettens F, Radkowski A, et al. Risk of chemotherapy-induced pulmonary fibrosis is associated with polymorphic tumour necrosis factor-a2 gene. European Respiratory Journal. 2002;19:912-8.

[5] Kaya V, Yazkan R, Yildirim M, et al. The relation of radiation-induced pulmonary fibrosis with stress and the efficiency of antioxidant treatment: An experimental study. Medical Science Monitor. 2014;20:290–6.


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