What is Pulmonary Fibrosis?

September is Pulmonary Fibrosis (PF) Awareness Month.

Each September, people who have been affected by pulmonary fibrosis come together with the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation to raise awareness about the family of lung diseases that are known as Pulmonary Fibrosis. As a Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation Care Center Network Site (one of only 68 sites in the US), UVM Medical Center would like to help with this initiative!

What is Pulmonary Fibrosis?

“Fibrosis” refers to scar tissue and “pulmonary” means lungs. Simply, Pulmonary Fibrosis means scarring of the lungs. The scar tissue can make it harder for your lungs to work like they should. It can be more difficult to get oxygen in to your blood which can make you feel short of breath.

Why do we need to raise awareness?

Pulmonary Fibrosis is a family of over 200 different lung diseases that cause scarring in the lungs. The most common type of PF is idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) which affects more than 200,000 people in the United States, or 1 in 200 adults over age 60 years.

About 50,000 new cases of IPF are diagnosed and about 40,000 Americans die from IPF each year.

What causes pulmonary fibrosis?

In most cases, we don’t know what causes pulmonary fibrosis. This is known as Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis or IPF.

In other cases, it can be caused by some medications, radiation, environmental triggers, autoimmune disorders, and occupational exposures.

What are the symptoms?

Most patients with PF develop symptoms between the ages of 50 to 70 years.

  • Shortness of breath, especially during exercise
  • Dry, hacking cough
  • Fast, shallow breathing
  • Gradual, unintended weight loss
  • Tiredness
  • Aching joints and muscles
  • Clubbing (widening and rounding) of the fingertips or toes

Many of these symptoms can be similar to symptoms of other lung diseases. If you have any of these symptoms you should talk with your provider right away.

If you would like more information about Pulmonary Fibrosis and the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation visit PulmonaryFibrosis.org

If you or a loved one have been affected by Pulmonary Fibrosis and are interested in a local support group, please consider joining Breathe Vermont. The group meets the first Wednesday of every month from 3-5pm at UVM Medical Center Main Campus, 111 Colchester Ave., East Pavilion 1stFloor- Trainer Conference Room, Burlington, VT 05401. For more information please contact Prema Menon, MD, PhD at Prema.Menon [at] uvmhealth.org

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