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Pulmonary Fibrosis

Pulmonary Fibrosis

Pulmonary fibrosis is scarring of the lungs. This chronic condition occurs due to the thickening and stiffening of tissue around the lungs’ air sacs. Most cases occur without a known cause, but smoking and genetics can increase your risk. Pulmonary fibrosis is most common in people older than age 50.

Over time, pulmonary fibrosis can make breathing difficult. Currently, no cure exists, but medications and other treatments can slow its advance and help you be more active.

Symptoms of Pulmonary Fibrosis

Typically, one of the first signs of pulmonary fibrosis is shortness of breath. At first, you may notice it only when you exercise, but eventually, you may feel shortness of breath even when you’re not exercising. Other symptoms include:

  • A persistent, dry cough
  • Clubbing, which is when the tips of the fingers and toes grow larger and rounder
  • Feeling tired
  • Joint and muscle aches
  • Rapid breathing
  • Weight loss

Treating Pulmonary Fibrosis

If you experience symptoms, especially shortness of breath, it’s important to see your primary care provider quickly. He or she can examine your breathing and overall health and decide if you need to see a pulmonologist, a doctor who specializes in lung care. A pulmonologist can order more tests to see if you have pulmonary fibrosis.

Pulmonary fibrosis is a progressive disease, meaning it gets worse over time. There is no cure, but a pulmonologist can offer treatments that can improve your quality of life, such as:​

  • Medications that slow the progression of pulmonary fibrosis and prevent symptoms, reduce inflammation and control conditions, such as heartburn, that can irritate your lungs
  • Cough medications — over-the-counter or prescription — that can reduce persistent coughing
  • Oxygen therapy, which may reduce shortness of breath
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation, which can teach you exercises that improve your lung function

Contact Us for More Information

MultiCare pulmonary and critical care specialists can provide you with diagnostic and therapeutic options to manage your respiratory health. Find a pulmonologist or contact the MultiCare Pulmonary Specialists clinic near you to learn more.