Interstitial pulmonary fibrosis describes a disease where tissue surrounding the air sacs of the lungs becomes inflamed and damaged, according to the National Library of Medicine. As the tissue stiffens and scars, the alveoli are prevented from fully expanding, and less oxygen is breathed into the body.
Scarring of the lung tissue happens over time, and the rate varies among individuals, explains the American Lung Association. There is no cure for interstitial pulmonary fibrosis, with death often occurring within three to five years after diagnosis.
Several factors increase risk for the condition, including smoking, viral infections, gastroesophageal reflux disease, family history of the pulmonary fibrosis and inhalation of environmental pollutants such as silica, hard metal dusts and fumes.
The disease contributes to the development of other conditions, including collapsed lungs, lung infections, respiratory and heart failure, cancer and blood clots in the lungs.