Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis: An Overview


Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a devastating interstitial lung disease that has no cure. The term fibrosis refers to scarring, in IPF particularly the scarring of the lungs. The scarring causes irreversible destruction and progressive decline of the lungs. When the tissue thickens, the lungs cannot properly exchange oxygen. The term idiopathic, in medicine, means that the origin of the disease is unknown. The exact cause of IPF is unknown, however, certain risk factors such as smoking, exposure to inhaled toxins such as asbestos, lung injury, viral, and bacterial infections, acid reflux and genetics associated with the disease. IPF mainly affects people ages 50 and up. “Many people live only about 3 to 5 years after diagnosis. The most common cause of death related to IPF is respiratory failure” (“What Is Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis? – NHLBI, NIH,” n.d.). “40,000 people die each year to IPF, the same as to breast cancer” (“Facts About Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis | Coalition For Pulmonary FibrosisCoalition For Pulmonary Fibrosis,” n.d.), yet IPF is still an unknown disease to many people. This paper will discuss the risk factors, disease process, complications, management, and new drug therapy clinical trials.

Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis: An Overview


Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis first started to become recognizable around the late 1800’s (Noble & Homer, 2005). While currently the exact cause is unknown, there have been several risk factors that are recognized to contribute to the disease. As mentioned above, smoking, exposure to inhaled toxins such as asbestos, lung injury, viral and bacterial infections, acid reflux and genetics are associated with the disease (Noble & Homer, 2005).

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