Pulmonary Fibrosis

Pulmonary fibrosis is a progressive disease that causes lung tissue to become thickened and scarred. This scarring makes the lungs stiff, making it increasingly difficult to breathe deeply. It can be easy to dismiss the common symptoms of pulmonary fibrosis as ageing or lack of fitness but breathlessness, cough, fatigue and unexplained weight loss shouldn’t be ignored. Early diagnosis and treatment can help slow disease progression and improve quality of life. Learn more about pulmonary fibrosis and talk to your GP today.

What is Pulmonary Fibrosis?

Pulmonary Fibrosis (PF) is a type of rare lung disease that causes the tissue (interstitium) around the air sacs (alveoli) within the lungs to become thickened and scarred – this is called fibrosis. This scarring makes the lungs stiff which makes it increasingly difficult to breathe deeply. This stops the efficient delivery of oxygen into the bloodstream where it is needed to be transported to the rest of the body. 

There are many types of PFSome people with PF may already have features of other associated conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or scleroderma. Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) is a specific disease where the underlying cause is unknown. It is important for your healthcare team to identify the underlying type of PF, to help determine the most appropriate treatment options for your condition. These webpages provide information that is common across the different types of PF. For information that is specific to your diagnosis, it is important that you speak with your healthcare team. 

What can I expect to experience?

PF affects each person differently. The course of the disease is specific to each individual. It is influenced by factors beyond your diagnosis of PF, including the severity of your disease and other medical conditions. 

With mild PF, you may not notice a difference in how your lungs function. However, in some types of PF, the scarring can get worse over time. Treatment for this type of PF aims to stop or slow down the scarring with medications, whilst also helping you manage your symptoms to ensure you feel as well as you can. 

How common is IPF?

Although all types of Pulmonary Fibrosis are relatively rare, you are not alone. Each type of PF has specific information relating to prevalence. For IPF, there is a conservative estimate of approximately 2,170 people being diagnosed in Australia each year, however it is not known exactly how many people are currently living with the condition.

Information and support

Our Information and Support Centre team are here to assist you with your questions, provide general information and referral to support services. This free and confidential service is available Monday to Friday 8am – 4.30pm (AEST). Call 1800 654 301 or find out more, here.

PF research program

Lung Foundation Australia is committed to driving dedicated research that will help improve the health outcomes and quality of life for those affected by PF. Our research program includes a world renowned IPF registry, clinical trials group and a suite of IPF research awards and grants available to researchers and health professionals.  


Acknowledgement : The Don’t dismiss pulmonary fibrosis campaign was developed in partnership with The Centre of Research Excellence in Pulmonary Fibrosis, and supported by Boehringer Ingelheim.