Let’s learn more: What is IPF?

What the “I,” “P,” and “F” mean in IPF

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, or IPF, is a disease that causes scarring in the lungs. The cause of lung scarring is unknown (“idiopathic”), but the scars are permanent.

What does IPF do to the lungs?

IPF is a disease that causes lung fibrosis (scarring). This thickened, stiff scar tissue makes it more difficult for the lungs to work properly.

  • Damage occurs when tissues deep in the lungs are “injured” and do not heal properly
  • In turn, tiny air sacs in the lung (called alveoli) thicken and stiffen, causing scars (fibrosis)
  • Continued fibrosis makes it difficult for oxygen to enter the bloodstream and carbon dioxide to get out of the bloodstream

IPF can be hard to talk about, but it’s important to have conversations with your doctor about the disease and your management plan.

What does IPF progression look like in the lungs?

When IPF first occurs, there is normal tissue next to scarred tissue. As the disease progresses, fibrosis becomes more widespread.

It’s important to keep these points about IPF in mind:

  • Scarring is permanent and damage cannot be undone
  • It’s an ongoing disease that gets worse over time
  • It advances rapidly in some people, while it moves slowly for others


There is currently no treatment to repair the damage IPF causes to lung tissue. That’s why it’s important to consider an IPF management plan now—before additional damage to your lungs occurs. You can discover some common IPF management options here.

Some IPF statistics

IPF is considered a rare disease. However, improvements in diagnosis techniques and increased awareness about IPF may be helping doctors diagnose more people who have the disease.

  • Today, approximately 132,000–200,000 people in the United States are living with IPF
  • Each year, about 42,000 more people 65 years of age and older are diagnosed with IPF
  • IPF typically affects people 50 years of age and older

Hear real stories from others with IPF

IPF can feel isolating, but you’re not alone.

Ways to face your IPF

There may be more you can do to manage your IPF and IPF symptoms.

Tips for living with IPF

See some suggestions that may help day-to-day life with IPF.