6 Pulmonary Fibrosis Causes and Risk Factors


Pulmonary fibrosis is a lung disease where the tissue which surrounds the air sacs (called alveoli) become scarred, making it difficult for oxygen to get into the bloodstream. Since there are various causes and risk factors for pulmonary fibrosis, we’ve compiled a list of some of the main causes and risks of the condition using information from the The Mayo Clinic and the Lung Association of Canada.

Occupational Pollutants

Those who work in occupations where they might inhale various toxic dust, powders or chemicals will be more at risk of developing pulmonary fibrosis. Some of these include silica fibers, bird or animal droppings, asbestos fibers, coal dust, heavy metal dust, and grain dust.

Connect with other patients and share tips on how to manage PF in our forums!

Existing Medical Conditions

Certain medical conditions can leave patients vulnerable to developing PF, these include connective tissue diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and scleroderma.

Find out about personalized care for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.



Both people who smoke and those who have quit are more at risk of developing PF than those who have never smoked. People with lung diseases associated with smoking such as COPD also have an elevated risk.

Health journalist slams the use of smoking in fashion shoot. 


Radiation Therapy

Radiation therapy for breast cancer or lung cancer can increase the risk of pulmonary fibrosis. The risk will rise depending on how much radiation therapy the chest area received during cancer treatment and may be further increased if the patient also had chemotherapy.

Learn more about pulmonary rehabilitation and PF.



Some medications have been found to increase the risk of developing pulmonary fibrosis, namely chemotherapy medications, heart medications, some anti-inflammatory drugs and some antibiotics.

Here are four things you can do to help prevent pulmonary fibrosis. 


Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is the term given to the disease when doctors cannot attribute a single cause to the development of the disease. However, being male, over the age of 50, a smoker or ex-smoker and having a family history of the disease are all risks. Up to 20 percent of IPF patients share the disease with another close family member.

In addition, it’s thought that patients who suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may have an increased risk of PH due to inhaling some of the stomach acid that comes up the esophagus causing damage to the lung tissue.

While there is currently no known cure for IPF, there are treatments available to help ease the symptoms.

Pulmonary Fibrosis News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

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  1. David says:

    FYI – I am 75 yrs old and was diagnosed with PF last spring. I have the 02 equipment, but I don’t like it much because I cannot tell if it helps or not. I won’t carry the 02 bottles around because the weight – mostly the bulkiness which prevents free movement. My PF was caused by the failure of the NISSEN FUNDOPLICATION surgery I had in 1999. I had gotten the flu in spite of having the flu shot and coughed so hard so many times a day that I would almost pass out. Those coughs apparently are what caused the sutures to let go and let the stomach acid go into my lungs. I didn’t know I was having reflux (This is the ‘silent’ type even before the surgery which was supposed to be the cure for BARRETTS ESOSOPHAGUS) I wasn’t looking for other problems. I have always been active even as a retired person and cut and process about 15 – 20 cords of wood each year for our own use from our backyard tree lot. I can now barely walk 200′ without puffing hard. This is a difficult time for my family and myself. I will find out this summer if my firewood cutting days are over or not.

  2. Charlie says:

    Were you ever in the military? Any exposure to agent orange either air borne or in food and water you may’ve consumed at sea.

  3. Sandi says:

    My father died of IPF 17 years ago. His brother’s wife also died of IPF the year before. We just buried one of his brothers today and heard from the widow that he was diagnosed with IPF last year. All 3 had been exposure to grain dust in their 20’s when they worked at grain elevators. We assumed my Dad and his sister in law were an anomaly, but now we feel we should consider a family connection because of his brother? What do you think?

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