Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Specialist

St. Francis Sleep, Allergy & Lung Institute

Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine & Allergy Clinic located in Clearwater, FL

You might not think much of a few coughs or even some shortness of breath, especially if you’re getting older. However, these symptoms could indicate a serious condition called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), or unexplained, progressive scarring in your lungs. At St. Francis Sleep, Lung and Allergy Institute in Clearwater, Florida, Frank Averill, MD, helps you manage your IPF to continue breathing as clearly as you can. Call the clinic or go online to book your consultation for IPF treatment today.

Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis Q & A

What is idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis?

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a disease characterized by scarring throughout your lungs. While it doesn’t affect the airways and blood vessels, it eventually impacts your lungs’ ability to absorb oxygen from your breaths. 

It worsens over time as more scar tissue forms, starting around the outside edges of your lungs and advancing toward the inside center.

What leads to idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis?

IPF is a relatively rare condition, and it isn’t well understood. However, experts suspect that several factors may lead to its appearance later in life. Specifically, IPF may be linked to:

  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Work conditions involving airborne dust or fumes
  • Acid reflux 
  • Old age
  • Genetics

Additionally, over 75% of all patients with IPF are men. Even if you have one or several of these risk factors, IPF is a rare condition that doesn’t require screening. If you notice symptoms, you should visit St. Francis Sleep, Lung and Allergy Institute for an assessment.

What are the symptoms of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis?

The symptoms of IPF tend to appear slowly, and many patients mistakenly link them with other, less serious conditions before seeking a diagnosis. If you have IPF, you might experience:

  • Dry coughing that doesn’t go away
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Swelling in your legs
  • Clubbed fingers

The two most common symptoms of IPF, coughing and breathing difficulties, might first appear when you exercise. As the condition progresses, it may come to a point that you can no longer exercise safely at all.

How is idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis treated?

IPF, unfortunately, does not have a cure, and there is no way to remove or reduce the scar tissue that is already in your lungs. 

However, the team at St. Francis Sleep, Lung and Allergy Institute helps you implement lifestyle changes and can prescribe medications to help ease your symptoms and slow the condition’s progression.

A management plan for your IPF might include:

  • An exercise plan
  • Help with stopping your smoking habit
  • Frequent handwashing
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation (breathing coaching)
  • Supplemental oxygen
  • Anti-scarring medications
  • Medications that reduce inflammation

The St. Francis Sleep, Lung and Allergy Institute team sits down with you to discuss your symptoms, current lifestyle, and preferences before creating your treatment strategy. They monitor your progress and may make changes to your plan as necessary.

IPF may not have a cure, but you can live a fulfilling and active life in spite of the condition. To book your consultation for treatment, call St. Francis Sleep, Lung and Allergy Institute or schedule online today.