Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Causes

Although idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) causes are unknown, there are specific risk factors that may increase the chance of developing it. Some of these risk factors include cigarette smoking, viral infections, genetics, exposure to environmental pollutants, and certain medications. Also, some researchers believe that there may be a connection between IPF and GERD, as 9 out of 10 people with IPF also have GERD.

What Causes Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis?

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is part of a group of conditions known as interstitial lung diseases that cause scarring to tissues deep inside the lungs. This scarring prevents proper airflow from occurring within the lungs.
In several cases of interstitial lung disease, the cause is known. However, in the case of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, the cause is unknown. In fact, the medical term for an unknown cause is "idiopathic." Therefore, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is defined as a lung fibrosis ("scarring") of unknown cause.

Risk Factors for Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis

Although the causes of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis are unknown, certain factors may increase a person's chances of developing it. These are known as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis risk factors. Specific risk factors include:
  • Cigarette smoking.
  • Viral infections, including:
  • Exposure to environmental pollutants, including inorganic dust (silica and hard metal dusts), organic dust (bacteria and animal proteins), and gases and fumes.
  • Certain medications, including:
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Scientists have found that 9 out of 10 people with IPF also have GERD. As a result, some scientists think that people who have GERD may breathe in tiny drops of acid from their stomach on a regular basis. This acid may then injure the lungs and lead to IPF. However, more research must be done to confirm this assumption.
  • Genetics. Your genes may also play a role in the development of IPF, although no specific genes have been identified. Some families have at least two members with IPF. This is known as familial IPF (FPF).

IPF Information

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