The official blog of the Lung Institute.
Pulmonary fibrosis is a condition characterized by the development of scarring (fibrosis) in and around the air sacs (alveoli) of the lungs. The resulting thickening and stiffening of lung tissue can lead to breathing difficulties and make it difficult for essential oxygen to pass into the bloodstream. The symptoms of pulmonary fibrosis often worsen over time, sometimes to the point that an individual may experience shortness of breath even while at rest.
In most cases, the precise cause of pulmonary fibrosis is unknown (this is referred to as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis). However, the condition can sometimes be traced to exposure to certain substances and conditions, including:
- Toxins – Long-term exposure to certain toxins and pollutants, such as asbestos fibers, coal dust, silica dust, hard metal dust, grain dust and bird and animal droppings, can damage the lungs.
- Radiation – Prior radiation therapy administered to the chest area, such as that used to treat breast or lung cancer, can potentially cause lung damage (which sometimes develops several months or even years later).
- Medications – The use of certain drugs, including some antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, heart medications and chemotherapy medications, can sometimes damage lung tissue.
- Other medical conditions – Lung damage can result from a number of underlying health conditions, including sarcoidosis, dermatomyositis, polymyositis, systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, pneumonia and mixed connective tissue disease.
Scientists continue to investigate possible causes of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Some researchers believe the lung scarring may be triggered by a virus or exposure to tobacco smoke. Additionally, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis appears to sometimes run in families, leading experts to theorize that heredity may play a role in its development. While many people who are diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis also have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), more studies are needed to determine whether there is an actual link between the two conditions.
If you are exploring treatment options for pulmonary fibrosis, you are encouraged to contact the Lung Institute at (800) 729-3065. As a world-recognized leader in cellular therapy for chronic lung diseases, we offer cellular therapy as an innovative form of pulmonary fibrosis treatment. By harnessing the power of adult cells, our groundbreaking therapy can potentially promote healing, improve lung function and enhance quality of life.