Lungs Home > Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a progressive disease that causes the air sacs in the lungs to become inflamed and scarred. As a result, it is difficult for the lungs to move oxygen into the blood and through the body. Although the cause of IPF is unknown, there are certain risk factors, such as cigarette smoking and genetics. The main treatment is medications, such as prednisone.

What Is Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis?

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, or IPF for short, is a condition that affects tissues deep inside the lungs. IPF is a progressive disease, meaning that, with or without treatment, the damage to the lungs will continue. At this time, there is no known cure.
IPF currently affects about 200,000 people in the United States. About 50,000 each year are diagnosed with this condition. Most people diagnosed with IPF are between the ages of 40 and 70, although this disease can occur in people from infancy to old age. About two-thirds of people diagnosed are over the age of 60, and the average age of diagnosis is 66 years old.
IPF seems to affect males more than females. It does not seem to favor one race or ethnicity over another, and it is a disease reported in people throughout the world.

The Anatomy of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis

With idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, the air sacs in the lungs and their supporting structures become inflamed and scarred. This scarring is known as fibrosis. As the scarring progresses, it makes the lungs thicker and stiffer. This begins to affect the lungs' ability to move oxygen into the blood and to the body's organs that rely on the oxygen for proper functioning. It also affects the lungs' ability to remove carbon dioxide from the blood.
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Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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