An older man receiving oxygen supplementation from an oxygen concentrator while sitting on his couch and folding his laundry.

Key facts

  • Symptom monitoring is a powerful tool to help you have informed discussions with your doctor and healthcare team
  • Managing cough is often a key goal for you and your healthcare team
  • Antifibrotics may be prescribed to help reduce further scarring. This may help slow IPF progression

While there is no cure for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, various therapies may help to alleviate your symptoms. Treatment strategies can include options such as:

  • medications that reduce further lung scarring
  • pulmonary rehabilitation
  • oxygen therapy
  • lung transplantation

The main goal of your treatment will usually be to try to control your symptoms. You and your healthcare team will work to develop a treatment plan that suits your needs.

It is important to remember that treatment decisions for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis are personal for each patient. The treatment decision may be affected by factors such as: 

  • Other conditions you may have
  • Other medications you may be taking
  • Treatment side effects
  • If there is a risk of acute exacerbations (a sudden and rapid worsening of your condition)
  • Your age and physical condition
  • Your personal preference for treatment options
  • The comfort and experience level of your respirologist

It’s important that you talk to your healthcare team about which treatment options may be right for you.

In addition to pulmonary rehabilitation, oxygen therapy and lung transplantation, there are a few medications available. The medications belong to a type of medication class known as antifibrotics. Speak to your doctor to find out if they are a suitable treatment option for you.

In Canada, there are two antifibrotic medicines available — nintedanib and pirfenidone.

Nintedanib is available in Canada for the treatment of:

  • idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF)

To learn more about nintedanib, click here.

Pirfenidone is available in Canada for the treatment of:

  • idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF)

To learn more about pirfenidone, click here.

Your doctor may also prescribe treatments other than antifibrotics. These may aim to improve your symptoms and your general well-being and might include pulmonary rehabilitation or oxygen therapy. The healthcare team will always consider your individual situation and work with you to decide on the treatment plan best suited to you.

  • Oxygen therapy: Oxygen therapy can help you to perform everyday tasks by providing you with extra oxygen
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation: Pulmonary rehabilitation is an exercise and education program that can help improve quality of life

Speak to your doctor about the treatment options available and discuss those best suited to you.

“One of the more helpful [resources] came from one of the medications that I'm on...That helped a great deal, as I was reading through some of the information of how this particular medication could help, although it's not a cure. That's where a lot of my what 
I call ‘truth’ information came from – truth versus the Internet because there is so much on the Internet, so you don't know.”
– Jenny, BC 
(@ 1 year post-diagnosis)*

* Name has been changed for privacy.

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