6 Pulmonary Fibrosis Causes and Risk Factors

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by Wendy Henderson |

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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