People with pulmonary fibrosis may have different symptoms. The symptoms commonly happen over time and slowly get worse. Some patients may notice symptoms that get worse very quickly. Symptoms may also differ depending on the cause of the condition.
Symptoms of pulmonary fibrosis include:
- Shortness of breath, particularly during exercise
- Dry cough
- Fast, shallow breathing
- Unexplained weight loss
- Achy joints and muscles
Causes and Risk Factors
Pulmonary fibrosis is related to many conditions, but in most cases, the cause is never found. When this is the case, the condition is known as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Research is looking into what might cause idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, including viruses and tobacco smoke. Some types of the disease appear to run in families.
These factors may increase risk of pulmonary fibrosis:
- Work-related and environmental toxins.
- Radiation treatments
- Medications, including chemotherapy drugs
- Autoimmune diseases, including systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis
Most of the people who get the disease are middle-aged and older adults, people who smoke, and those who work with chemicals that damage the lungs.