Symptoms of pulmonary fibrosis include shortness of breath, dry cough, fatigue, unexplained weight loss and aching muscles and joints, according to the Mayo Clinic. However, symptoms and progression of the disease vary from person to person.
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is the most common form of the disease and is characterized by a dry and unexplained cough, explains Medicine.net. The disease progresses slowly and systematically, beginning with the onset of shortness of breath that gradually worsens over time. Although dyspnea generally occurs only with activity, as the disease progresses, shortness of breath occurs with little or no activity. Eventually, it becomes disabling to the point of limiting all of the patient’s activity.
Pulmonary fibrosis occurs as the result of scarring that thickens the tissue around and between the air sacs in the lungs, making it difficult for oxygen to pass into the bloodstream, explains the Mayo Clinic. Lung damage can result from occupational and environmental factors, such as exposure to airborne toxins and pollutants, including silica dust, asbestos fibers, grain dust. It can also develop due to radiation treatment for lung or breast cancers, and medical conditions, such as tuberculosis, pneumonia and sarcoidosis. Certain medications, such as chemotherapy drugs, heart medications and some antibiotics may cause damage to the lungs and exacerbate the condition.