Causes of pulmonary fibrosis include environmental factors, radiation treatments, certain medications and medical treatments. In most cases, however, no known cause is discovered, according to Mayo Clinic.
Pulmonary fibrosis occurs when lung tissue becomes damaged and develops scar tissue. Due to the thickening of the tissue in the lungs, it becomes increasingly difficult to breathe. In addition to shortness of breath, pulmonary fibrosis can cause a dry cough, fatigue, weight loss and aches in muscles and joints, explains Mayo Clinic.
While most cases of pulmonary fibrosis have no known cause, the condition does have several known causes. Occupational and environmental exposure to certain chemicals, such as silica dust and asbestos can damage the lungs, leading to fibrosis. Radiation treatments in the thoracic region can cause fibrosis to develop months or years following treatment. Medications, including chemotherapy drugs, heart medications and certain antibiotics, are also potential causes of the condition. Pulmonary fibrosis can also be a symptom of serious medical conditions, such as tuberculosis, pneumonia, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and sarcoidosis, says Mayo Clinic.
There is no cure for pulmonary fibrosis, but there are treatments to make the condition more manageable. Corticosteriods can help slow the progression of the disease in some patients. Using oxygen therapy can help make breathing easier and improve overall quality of life. Pulmonary rehabilitation can also offer increased quality of life, using exercise, breathing techniques and counseling to improve the symptoms of the condition. Depending on the severity of the disease and the age of the patient, pulmonary fibrosis patients may be eligible for a lung transplant, states Mayo Clinic.