Did you know that there are more than eight common lung diseases? These diseases are largely broken down into three main types:
- airway diseases, or those that affect how air comes into your lungs — including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- lung circulation diseases, or those that impact your lung’s blood vessels, such as pulmonary hypertension
- lung tissue diseases, or those that directly affect the structure of your lung tissue, like idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF)
While some lung diseases may be preventable, the exact cause of others, including IPF, is unknown. What is known is how IPF affects how your lungs work.
As you know, your lungs are a critical part of breathing. They allow you to take fresh oxygen in and dispose of carbon dioxide. It’s natural for people to not think about their lungs on an everyday basis — that is, until breathing becomes more difficult because of something like IPF.
IPF causes your lungs to stiffen up. The disease typically continues to develop and progress over a period of time. This stiffening can cause a number of other symptoms including a dry cough, shortness of breath, aching muscles, and fatigue.
With IPF, the tissue located within your lung’s air sacs is scarred. The tissue becomes thicker and stiffer, making it harder to take a breath and let air into your bloodstream. This damage, also known as fibrosis, is irreversible. However, medications, therapies, and certain lifestyle modifications may help slow the development of scarring.