What is Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF)?
Apart from diseases of the lungs such as asthma, COPD, pneumonia, bronchitis, and cancer, there are diseases in which the connective tissue of the lungs are widely involved, which are neither infectious nor cancerous. These are called interstitial lung diseases. Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is the most common of these. IPF is a disease characterized by the hardening and loss of elasticity of the lungs, a condition in which there is an increase in connective tissue in the lungs called fibrosis. This increase in connective tissue disrupts the structure of the lung tissue. It usually occurs in old age. It starts especially from the lower regions and subpleural (under the lung membrane) areas of the lungs. The most important symptoms are dry cough and shortness of breath, clubbing of the fingers may occur.
What causes IPF?
IPF is a disease of unknown cause, but a significant proportion of patients have a history of smoking. Many factors such as environmental factors and viruses were suspected, but a cause could not be found. Concomitant gastroesophageal reflux disease is common in patients with IPF.
How is IPF diagnosed?
The most important examination in the diagnosis of the disease is thorax HRCT (high resolution computed tomography). Findings suggestive of IPF can be observed in thorax HRCT. In some patients, thoracic HRCT findings are typical for IPF, in such patients only thoracic HRCT findings are sufficient for diagnosis. In such patients, after excluding diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, pulmonary involvement, asbestosis, which can have a similar appearance, a diagnosis of IPF can be made without the need for biopsy. Lung biopsy is required in patients with findings suggestive of IPF but not typical IPF findings. There may also be cases where a definitive diagnosis cannot be made despite lung biopsy. Pulmonary function tests of patients with IPF may be within normal limits in the early stages of the disease, and as the disease progresses, the lungs become unable to expand. The reason for this is fibrosis in the lungs, loss of elastic structure. The fibrous parts of the lungs look like honeycombs, normal lung tissue cannot be mentioned in these parts, so these parts of the lung do not perform respiration.
Is there a cure for IPF?
There is no known, definitive treatment for IPF. Because diseased areas of the lungs are structurally destroyed, these areas cannot be treated, but there are drug treatments that help slow the progression of the disease in areas of intact lung.