7 Common Symptoms of Pulmonary Fibrosis


Pulmonary fibrosis is a progressive chronic lung disease where the tissue in the lungs becomes thick and stiff, making it increasingly difficult to breathe and leading to a low level of oxygen in the blood. In the early stages of the disease, the symptoms can mimic many other illnesses which can make it difficult to diagnose, and often the symptoms are ignored until they become more severe.

Here are some of the most common symptoms associated with pulmonary fibrosis:

chronic cough and IPF

Shortness of Breath
Shortness of breath (dyspnea) is the most commonly associated symptom of pulmonary fibrosis. It begins with shortness of breath during physical exertion but as the disease progresses, patients will find they suffer shortness of breath even while resting.

Find out more about shortness of breath

Check out our PF News forums to learn more about common signs and symptoms of pulmonary fibrosis.

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  1. Susana Barreiro says:

    In Oct. 2016 i went into the ER due to what seemed high blood pressure, weak, and wanting to pass out, they did a chest XRAy where the Findings they put said : Lungs are hyperinflated and there is chronic appearing Interstitial thickening, my Primary Dr. send me to do a CT scan same month of my lungs and they found nothing, i recently went to Mayo Clinic for other issues and took that same CT scan they did in Oct, 2016 for a second opinion to Mayo and their findings were: Mild dependant atelectasis/edema in the posterior lungs. Slight Fibrosis left base.
    i am worried about this and i will be looking for another lung specialist since the one i had also took a look at these scans and said i had nothing, that the hospital was wrong. my Mother died in Dec. 2009 from IPF and since then i been getting my self checked out since i been having a continues dry cough and daily mucus in my throat that i cant get rid off. they told me to take allergy pills Allegra medicine. please advice me, thanks

    • Dianne Roncal, DMD says:

      So sorry to hear that, Susana. We highly recommend that you visit your doctor for a check up.

  2. Don Dove says:

    i went walking one morning (as I always do) and after about 5 minutes, i realized it was difficult to breath. I went to the doctor and they took X-rays and said I had a blood clot. They treated this for 2 or 3 months and on my next doctor visit, the doctor told me I had pneumonia. They treated this for a couple of months, then on the next doctor visit, I went in to find out my pneumonia and the doc walked in and said,Don what you have is interstitial lung disease. Now you can get a biopsy for a second opinion and you may also start thinking about a lung transplant….yep, I flipped out. Well, to make a long story short, Im now on Ofev, and so far no problems!!!! By the way, they gave me less than 3 years to live so, somebody invent a cure PLEASE!!!

  3. Ron Cade says:

    I was told recently that a person with PF will always have a crackling sound like pneumonia and I should not take any pneumonia treating meds without checking with the PF Specialist. The steroids are bad enough and worse on PF patient. This from a PF Specialist at UT Southwestern in Dallas. I do not have the persistent cough talked about here. I was diagnosed in April 2016 and immediately put on Oxygen 24/7. Without the Oxygen, my oxygen % drops into low 70s quickly. I recently learned that at 65%, death is imminent. I have been dealing with the PF symptoms since early 2013. I have been taking Esbriet since early May 2017. Hanging in there. Cheers!

  4. Carolynn Boone says:

    I am a 38 year old female with pmh of SVT, pneumothorax (car accident), pericardial effusion (pregnancy induced), & diagnosed mild intermittent asthmatic; recent exacerbation with SOB x6 weeks despite: Albuterol inhaler, singulair, zyrtec, claritin, flonase, flovent (new), and steroid burst (new). Pulmonologist is out of state so sent me to urgent care for chest xray. urgent care refused to xray, performed no other tests besides spo2/lung auscultation (lungs “clear but diminished”), and added neb treatments. Still no relief. Should I go back and push for that chest xray/further testing?

  5. Ernestine Cooper says:

    I was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis little over a year ago Ofev Brovana, Budesonide, I am doing much better Oxygen stays around 92-96

  6. Brad Schmidt says:

    Hello, I am 25 years old. I am a bulk plant operator (I work with 100% microfine silica, glass dust and hydrochloric acid.) I have had this job for over a year now and wear my gas mask and respirator frequently. For the past 3 months every morning I on my first deep breath after waking up my lungs feel as though they vibrate\pop open and clear after the first breath. I dont have any shortness of breath during exercise. I am going to the Dr tomorrow on the way up to work (oilfield) has anyone with fibrosis ever had anything similar?

    • Gedas says:

      Hi Brad,

      I am 27 years old, had exposure to wood dust, smoked until quite recently and developed very similar symptoms. How are you doing? did you get any answers?

  7. Carna c.suedad says:

    Im an ofw from ksa,since i was 20 years old (1996)im already applying for the position as dh,but im not accepted because in my med only in xray results i got failure.,because it says pulmonary tuberculosis with atelectasis.IHave plenty of lung specialist visited.itook expensive capsules,but then the result is same as the previous one.Until i plan to apply in mid country that time im accepted because i signed the waiver.So again im apply in mid country ,i take general med again but the results is as is.what will i do?i go to the municipal health officer and at the same time to the hospital where there i is mtb i made all the procedure but they found nothingin short they give me certification which clarify that the result is negative.Again i apply again as dh but they wont accept because of my said xray.can you help me please?or what should i do.thanks and God bless

  8. Rich lu says:

    I’m 39 experiencing slight clubbing in fingers and toes. Have really bad pain in chest, ribs, and lower back. My PFTs are normal and I’m going through another ct chest soon. When I lie down and take a breathe I do feel like they are stretching open or have a congestion type sound. O2 levels are always good but my body hurts really bad. Have seen multiple specialist and I’m at Mayo Clinic right now.

  9. Richard Lu says:

    I am 39 years old. No shortness of breathe or cough but in a lot of pain. Also, seems to me my fingers are clubbing. But when I show a pulmonologist they dismiss the idea. Frustrating nonetheless. I just had another PFT today and have a follow up scan on Thursday. Anyone else experience major bodily pain prior to diagnosis? Also, my vocal chords seem to be deeper when I talk and I have foamy urine every time. Could it be something else besides IPF? I get sharp pains in chest out of no where or with certain movements and breathing. I have really bad lower back pain.

  10. Note Well, while I had dyspnea it was never hard for me to breathe. I just felt like I wasn’t getting enough oxygen and breathed faster to make up the deficit. I’d been seriously anemic once and it was the same feeling. No one paid any attention.

  11. Peggy Murphy says:

    I can sympathize with all to a degree. For years I felt like I wasn’t getting enough oxygen in my left lung. Complained to doctor after doctor. No one did anything. In the last month or two my PCP told me I have PF. Nothing has been done to help me. I only have two of the symptoms and that is I have trouble breathing and give completely out. Sometimes just walking across the room or taking a shower exhaust me.

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