Diseases Home > Symptoms of Pulmonary Fibrosis

Shortness of breath and a dry, hacking cough that does not go away are the most common pulmonary fibrosis symptoms. As the disease progresses, other symptoms that may occur include loss of appetite, fatigue, and discomfort in the chest. In severe cases, symptoms can be significantly worse and may include congestive heart failure, respiratory failure, and strokes.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Pulmonary Fibrosis?

Pulmonary fibrosis is the term used to describe scarring and thickening that happens to lung tissue. It can be caused by many different medical conditions (see Causes of Pulmonary Fibrosis) and can cause a variety of symptoms.
The exact symptoms a person experiences with pulmonary fibrosis can vary. Also, the severity of symptoms does not necessarily reflect the damage that has already occurred in the lungs. In fact, it is common to already have significant lung damage before symptoms begin.

Common Symptoms

The most common signs and symptoms of pulmonary fibrosis include:
  • Shortness of breath. This is more common with exercise early on, but as the fibrosis worsens, it may occur at rest and/or during sleep.
  • A chronic, dry, hacking cough that does not respond to cold medicines.

Other Symptoms

As pulmonary fibrosis worsens, other symptoms that may occur include:
  • Discomfort in the chest
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • A general ill feeling (malaise)
  • Weight loss
  • Joint or muscle aches
  • Clubbing (a build-up of tissue at the end of the fingers or toes).
With severe pulmonary fibrosis, complications may develop, such as congestive heart failure, pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure), strokes, blood clots in the lungs (pulmonary embolism), and respiratory failure.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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