If you have shortness of breath and a dry, hacking cough that does not go away, your healthcare provider may test you for a condition called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). A progressive lung disease, IPF causes inflammation and scarring to the air sacs of the lungs. The exact cause is unclear. However, there are certain factors that increase your risk of developing it, such as:
- Smoking cigarettes
- Exposure to environmental pollutants
Each year, about 50,000 Americans are diagnosed with IPF. Most of those diagnosed are between the ages of 40 and 70, although IPF can occur in people from infancy to old age.
(For more information on IPF, click Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. This full-length article explores this condition in greater detail, with information on prognosis, the importance of early diagnosis, and other names for the condition.)