Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a chronic lung disease that causes scarring in your lungs. IPF is strongly associated with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a condition where stomach acid flows back into your esophagus. It’s estimated that 90 percent of people with IPF have GERD. GERD is generally considered a risk factor for IPF, but research is ongoing to determine the exact relationship between the two conditions.
Many theories are being investigated to determine whether GERD is a cause of IPF or whether it worsens lung scarring.
It’s thought that GERD may be connected to aspiration of tiny particles of stomach acid into your lungs over time. Some
Other studies have indicated that abnormal acid gastroesophageal reflux occurred in those with IPF, although they didn’t have the usual GERD symptoms.
There are two lines of thought on this research concerning people with both IPF and GERD: Some researchers think GERD comes first and causes lung fibrosis. Others think IPF comes first and puts pressure on the esophagus, causing GERD. In any case, more research is necessary to find the cause of IPF and develop effective treatments.
No matter what the cause, it’s clear from recent studies that treating people who have IPF for GERD is beneficial.
If you have GERD and you have any symptoms for IPF, such as difficulty breathing and a persistent cough, you should ask your doctor to check for IPF. IPF is very rare and difficult to diagnose. But if it’s caught early, you’ll have a better outcome with the disease.