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.
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:
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: