Lungs Home > Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Symptoms

The most common early signs and symptoms of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis include shortness of breath and a chronic, dry, hacking cough that does not respond to cold medicines. As IPF progresses, symptoms may include weight loss, fatigue, and a discomfort in the chest. When IPF becomes worse, complications may develop, such as pulmonary hypertension, congestive heart failure, strokes, and respiratory failure.

Symptoms of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis: An Overview

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a condition that is considered an interstitial lung disease (ILD). It is not cancer and is not caused by a specific infection. In fact, the exact cause of IPF is unknown (see Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Causes). Most people diagnosed with IPF are between the ages of 40 and 70, although diagnosis can occur from infancy to old age.
Symptoms of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis can vary among individuals. They can also take a long time to develop, in that a person can already have significant lung damage before symptoms occur. Once they do appear, they are likely to continue to get worse over time.

Early Symptoms and Signs of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis

The most common early signs and symptoms of IPF include:
  • Shortness of breath
  • A chronic, dry, hacking cough that does not respond to cold medicines.
Shortness of breath usually begins with exercise; however, as the disease worsens, it may begin occurring at rest.

Other IPF Symptoms

As the disease progresses, other IPF symptoms that may occur include:
  • Fatigue
  • A general ill feeling (malaise)
  • Discomfort in the chest
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Joint or muscle aches
  • Clubbing, which is a build-up of tissue at the end of the fingers or toes.
As IPF worsens, complications may develop, such as pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure), congestive heart failure, strokes, blood clots in the lungs (pulmonary embolism), and respiratory failure.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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