Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) causes scar tissue to grow inside your lungs. Usually, when you breathe in, oxygen moves through tiny air sacs into your bloodstream. From there, it travels to organs in your body.
IPF scar tissue is thick, like the scars you get on your skin after a cut. It slows oxygen flow from your lungs to your blood, which can keep your body from working as it should. Low oxygen levels and the stiff scar tissue make it hard to breathe.
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There’s no cure for IPF. The illness will have an impact on your life and your family. For most people, symptoms don’t get better, but there are new treatments that can slow the damage to your lungs. Everyone’s outlook is different. Some people will get worse quickly, while others can live 10 years or more after they are diagnosed. There are therapies to help you breathe easier and manage your symptoms. In some cases you may be able to have a lung transplant.
Some people get pulmonary fibrosis when they're exposed to something in their environment, like pollution, certain medicines, or an infection. But most of the time, doctors don't know what causes IPF. That's what "idiopathic" means.