Diagnosing lung conditions with pulmonary fibrosis

6 min read |

Patients with pulmonary fibrosis may have symptoms that are common in many diseases, meaning diagnosis can take a long time

An operation to replace a patient’s diseased lungs with lungs from a donor
View in glossary

The worsening of a disease/condition over time

View in glossary

A formal documentation when someone else is given the responsibility to manage your affairs and make certain decisions on your behalf

View in glossary

Refers to the lungs

View in glossary

A group of tests used to check how well the lungs take in and release air and how well they supply oxygen to the rest of the body14

View in glossary

A type of high blood pressure that affects the blood vessels to the lungs and the right side of the heart15

View in glossary

Therapy that provides relief from symptoms to help patients live more comfortably with their disease13

View in glossary

Administration of oxygen as a medical intervention11

View in glossary

A small plastic tube or prongs that fit in the nostrils to deliver supplementary oxygen11

View in glossary

Listening to and playing music as a therapy which aims to ease the symptoms of those living with IPF

View in glossary

A sleep disorder characterised by breathing that repeatedly stops and starts during sleep12

View in glossary

A specialist who helps someone recover or live with their symptoms more easily

View in glossary

A machine that removes other gases from the air to provide oxygen for oxygen therapy11

View in glossary

An education and exercise program designed to improve the quality of life for people with lung conditions16

View in glossary

A physician specialised in lung problems (also known as a respirologist)

View in glossary

A product that gives protection against a specific infection

View in glossary

A test used to monitor oxygen levels in a patient’s blood, usually with a non-invasive sensor11

View in glossary

A breathing technique to help control breathlessness and reduce anxiety17

View in glossary

A disease that affects only a small percentage of the population

View in glossary

Something that is associated with an increased risk of disease or infection

View in glossary

A technique that helps to reduce stress and anxiety by helping to understand and manage your emotions

View in glossary

Therapies used alongside conventional treatments that help treat symptoms and may improve overall physical and mental wellbeing

View in glossary

A medical study that investigates how safe and effective a new therapy or technique is for treating a certain disease

View in glossary

A disease or condition that occurs at the same time as another disease or condition

View in glossary

A device to deliver compressed air to improve sleep in people with obstructive sleep apnoea6

View in glossary

A disease where a waxy substance (plaque) builds up inside the coronary arteries, which supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle7

View in glossary

A type of chronic disease that typically worsens over time and is characterized by long-term breathing problems and poor airflow. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are older terms used for COPD5

View in glossary

Refers to the heart, and blood vessels

View in glossary

A type of medication that aims to slow the scarring and stiffening of lungs to slow disease progression2

View in glossary

Tiny air sacs in the lungs where the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide to and from the blood takes place

View in glossary

A test that shows how well the lungs are working by measuring how much oxygen and carbon dioxide is in the blood. This test requires that a small volume of blood be drawn from the patient3

View in glossary

Techniques that involve breathing in a certain way to control breathlessness and strengthen your lungs

View in glossary

A procedure in which a bronchoscope (a medical instrument like a tube) is passed through the mouth or nose into the lung and fluid is squirted into a small part of the lung and then collected for examination4

View in glossary

A lung condition where the air sacs within the lungs (alveoli) become damaged5

View in glossary

Extreme weariness resulting from exertion or illness

View in glossary

Of unknown cause

View in glossary

Rapid and uncontrolled breathing

View in glossary

A disease where there is progressive scarring or thickening of the lungs without a known cause4

View in glossary

The surgical removal of cells or tissue samples from the lung for examination by a pathologist10

View in glossary

The lung tissue becomes thickened and stiff

View in glossary

A test that uses a type of X-ray that produces multiple, detailed images of areas inside the body4

View in glossary

A burning sensation in the chest, which can spread to the throat, along with a sour taste in the mouth

View in glossary

Where inflamed tissue is replaced with scar tissue, making it thicken and become stiffer4

View in glossary

A symptom where the ends of the fingers become wider and rounder8

View in glossary

A digestive disease where stomach acid moves up out of the stomach and irritates the lining of the food pipe (oesophagus)9

View in glossary

A physician specializing in the management of diseases of the digestive system

View in glossary

An event characterized by sudden, severe worsening of symptoms or an increase in disease severity1

View in glossary

Diagnosing lung conditions with pulmonary fibrosis can take a long time (up to three years or more),1  which can be very frustrating. Many people will have been given a lot of different tests before being diagnosed with a lung condition with pulmonary fibrosis. However, doctors are always looking for ways to shorten the time to diagnosis.

When looking for the correct diagnosis of a lung condition with pulmonary fibrosis, your treatment team will need to rule out some diseases. They will check for different symptoms, ask about your medical history and perform some tests to reach a final diagnosis. This is why you may have seen many different types of doctors and specialists before being diagnosed with a lung condition with pulmonary fibrosis.2,3

Join a support group, if somebody puts out a hand for help, somebody will always hold it
Quick Tip
An operation to replace a patient’s diseased lungs with lungs from a donor
View in glossary

The worsening of a disease/condition over time

View in glossary

A formal documentation when someone else is given the responsibility to manage your affairs and make certain decisions on your behalf

View in glossary

Refers to the lungs

View in glossary

A group of tests used to check how well the lungs take in and release air and how well they supply oxygen to the rest of the body14

View in glossary

A type of high blood pressure that affects the blood vessels to the lungs and the right side of the heart15

View in glossary

Therapy that provides relief from symptoms to help patients live more comfortably with their disease13

View in glossary

Administration of oxygen as a medical intervention11

View in glossary

A small plastic tube or prongs that fit in the nostrils to deliver supplementary oxygen11

View in glossary

Listening to and playing music as a therapy which aims to ease the symptoms of those living with IPF

View in glossary

A sleep disorder characterised by breathing that repeatedly stops and starts during sleep12

View in glossary

A specialist who helps someone recover or live with their symptoms more easily

View in glossary

A machine that removes other gases from the air to provide oxygen for oxygen therapy11

View in glossary

An education and exercise program designed to improve the quality of life for people with lung conditions16

View in glossary

A physician specialised in lung problems (also known as a respirologist)

View in glossary

A product that gives protection against a specific infection

View in glossary

A test used to monitor oxygen levels in a patient’s blood, usually with a non-invasive sensor11

View in glossary

A breathing technique to help control breathlessness and reduce anxiety17

View in glossary

A disease that affects only a small percentage of the population

View in glossary

Something that is associated with an increased risk of disease or infection

View in glossary

A technique that helps to reduce stress and anxiety by helping to understand and manage your emotions

View in glossary

Therapies used alongside conventional treatments that help treat symptoms and may improve overall physical and mental wellbeing

View in glossary

A medical study that investigates how safe and effective a new therapy or technique is for treating a certain disease

View in glossary

A disease or condition that occurs at the same time as another disease or condition

View in glossary

A device to deliver compressed air to improve sleep in people with obstructive sleep apnoea6

View in glossary

A disease where a waxy substance (plaque) builds up inside the coronary arteries, which supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle7

View in glossary

A type of chronic disease that typically worsens over time and is characterized by long-term breathing problems and poor airflow. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are older terms used for COPD5

View in glossary

Refers to the heart, and blood vessels

View in glossary

A type of medication that aims to slow the scarring and stiffening of lungs to slow disease progression2

View in glossary

Tiny air sacs in the lungs where the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide to and from the blood takes place

View in glossary

A test that shows how well the lungs are working by measuring how much oxygen and carbon dioxide is in the blood. This test requires that a small volume of blood be drawn from the patient3

View in glossary

Techniques that involve breathing in a certain way to control breathlessness and strengthen your lungs

View in glossary

A procedure in which a bronchoscope (a medical instrument like a tube) is passed through the mouth or nose into the lung and fluid is squirted into a small part of the lung and then collected for examination4

View in glossary

A lung condition where the air sacs within the lungs (alveoli) become damaged5

View in glossary

Extreme weariness resulting from exertion or illness

View in glossary

Of unknown cause

View in glossary

Rapid and uncontrolled breathing

View in glossary

A disease where there is progressive scarring or thickening of the lungs without a known cause4

View in glossary

The surgical removal of cells or tissue samples from the lung for examination by a pathologist10

View in glossary

The lung tissue becomes thickened and stiff

View in glossary

A test that uses a type of X-ray that produces multiple, detailed images of areas inside the body4

View in glossary

A burning sensation in the chest, which can spread to the throat, along with a sour taste in the mouth

View in glossary

Where inflamed tissue is replaced with scar tissue, making it thicken and become stiffer4

View in glossary

A symptom where the ends of the fingers become wider and rounder8

View in glossary

A digestive disease where stomach acid moves up out of the stomach and irritates the lining of the food pipe (oesophagus)9

View in glossary

A physician specializing in the management of diseases of the digestive system

View in glossary

An event characterized by sudden, severe worsening of symptoms or an increase in disease severity1

View in glossary

Patient support groups can help connect people with pulmonary fibrosis to talk about their experiences of diagnosis. Speak to your treatment team about groups in your area

An operation to replace a patient’s diseased lungs with lungs from a donor
View in glossary

The worsening of a disease/condition over time

View in glossary

A formal documentation when someone else is given the responsibility to manage your affairs and make certain decisions on your behalf

View in glossary

Refers to the lungs

View in glossary

A group of tests used to check how well the lungs take in and release air and how well they supply oxygen to the rest of the body14

View in glossary

A type of high blood pressure that affects the blood vessels to the lungs and the right side of the heart15

View in glossary

Therapy that provides relief from symptoms to help patients live more comfortably with their disease13

View in glossary

Administration of oxygen as a medical intervention11

View in glossary

A small plastic tube or prongs that fit in the nostrils to deliver supplementary oxygen11

View in glossary

Listening to and playing music as a therapy which aims to ease the symptoms of those living with IPF

View in glossary

A sleep disorder characterised by breathing that repeatedly stops and starts during sleep12

View in glossary

A specialist who helps someone recover or live with their symptoms more easily

View in glossary

A machine that removes other gases from the air to provide oxygen for oxygen therapy11

View in glossary

An education and exercise program designed to improve the quality of life for people with lung conditions16

View in glossary

A physician specialised in lung problems (also known as a respirologist)

View in glossary

A product that gives protection against a specific infection

View in glossary

A test used to monitor oxygen levels in a patient’s blood, usually with a non-invasive sensor11

View in glossary

A breathing technique to help control breathlessness and reduce anxiety17

View in glossary

A disease that affects only a small percentage of the population

View in glossary

Something that is associated with an increased risk of disease or infection

View in glossary

A technique that helps to reduce stress and anxiety by helping to understand and manage your emotions

View in glossary

Therapies used alongside conventional treatments that help treat symptoms and may improve overall physical and mental wellbeing

View in glossary

A medical study that investigates how safe and effective a new therapy or technique is for treating a certain disease

View in glossary

A disease or condition that occurs at the same time as another disease or condition

View in glossary

A device to deliver compressed air to improve sleep in people with obstructive sleep apnoea6

View in glossary

A disease where a waxy substance (plaque) builds up inside the coronary arteries, which supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle7

View in glossary

A type of chronic disease that typically worsens over time and is characterized by long-term breathing problems and poor airflow. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are older terms used for COPD5

View in glossary

Refers to the heart, and blood vessels

View in glossary

A type of medication that aims to slow the scarring and stiffening of lungs to slow disease progression2

View in glossary

Tiny air sacs in the lungs where the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide to and from the blood takes place

View in glossary

A test that shows how well the lungs are working by measuring how much oxygen and carbon dioxide is in the blood. This test requires that a small volume of blood be drawn from the patient3

View in glossary

Techniques that involve breathing in a certain way to control breathlessness and strengthen your lungs

View in glossary

A procedure in which a bronchoscope (a medical instrument like a tube) is passed through the mouth or nose into the lung and fluid is squirted into a small part of the lung and then collected for examination4

View in glossary

A lung condition where the air sacs within the lungs (alveoli) become damaged5

View in glossary

Extreme weariness resulting from exertion or illness

View in glossary

Of unknown cause

View in glossary

Rapid and uncontrolled breathing

View in glossary

A disease where there is progressive scarring or thickening of the lungs without a known cause4

View in glossary

The surgical removal of cells or tissue samples from the lung for examination by a pathologist10

View in glossary

The lung tissue becomes thickened and stiff

View in glossary

A test that uses a type of X-ray that produces multiple, detailed images of areas inside the body4

View in glossary

A burning sensation in the chest, which can spread to the throat, along with a sour taste in the mouth

View in glossary

Where inflamed tissue is replaced with scar tissue, making it thicken and become stiffer4

View in glossary

A symptom where the ends of the fingers become wider and rounder8

View in glossary

A digestive disease where stomach acid moves up out of the stomach and irritates the lining of the food pipe (oesophagus)9

View in glossary

A physician specializing in the management of diseases of the digestive system

View in glossary

An event characterized by sudden, severe worsening of symptoms or an increase in disease severity1

View in glossary

How is pulmonary fibrosis detected?

When detecting pulmonary fibrosis, your treatment team will look at many areas of your health. For example, they will ask you about your work history, family medical history, any potential drug and medication use and whether you have ever smoked.

A physical examination is also used to give the doctor a better understanding of your lung health. However, other tests may be needed to make a clearer identification. Some of these investigative tests are shown below.

Male doctor assessing x-ray results
An operation to replace a patient’s diseased lungs with lungs from a donor
View in glossary

The worsening of a disease/condition over time

View in glossary

A formal documentation when someone else is given the responsibility to manage your affairs and make certain decisions on your behalf

View in glossary

Refers to the lungs

View in glossary

A group of tests used to check how well the lungs take in and release air and how well they supply oxygen to the rest of the body14

View in glossary

A type of high blood pressure that affects the blood vessels to the lungs and the right side of the heart15

View in glossary

Therapy that provides relief from symptoms to help patients live more comfortably with their disease13

View in glossary

Administration of oxygen as a medical intervention11

View in glossary

A small plastic tube or prongs that fit in the nostrils to deliver supplementary oxygen11

View in glossary

Listening to and playing music as a therapy which aims to ease the symptoms of those living with IPF

View in glossary

A sleep disorder characterised by breathing that repeatedly stops and starts during sleep12

View in glossary

A specialist who helps someone recover or live with their symptoms more easily

View in glossary

A machine that removes other gases from the air to provide oxygen for oxygen therapy11

View in glossary

An education and exercise program designed to improve the quality of life for people with lung conditions16

View in glossary

A physician specialised in lung problems (also known as a respirologist)

View in glossary

A product that gives protection against a specific infection

View in glossary

A test used to monitor oxygen levels in a patient’s blood, usually with a non-invasive sensor11

View in glossary

A breathing technique to help control breathlessness and reduce anxiety17

View in glossary

A disease that affects only a small percentage of the population

View in glossary

Something that is associated with an increased risk of disease or infection

View in glossary

A technique that helps to reduce stress and anxiety by helping to understand and manage your emotions

View in glossary

Therapies used alongside conventional treatments that help treat symptoms and may improve overall physical and mental wellbeing

View in glossary

A medical study that investigates how safe and effective a new therapy or technique is for treating a certain disease

View in glossary

A disease or condition that occurs at the same time as another disease or condition

View in glossary

A device to deliver compressed air to improve sleep in people with obstructive sleep apnoea6

View in glossary

A disease where a waxy substance (plaque) builds up inside the coronary arteries, which supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle7

View in glossary

A type of chronic disease that typically worsens over time and is characterized by long-term breathing problems and poor airflow. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are older terms used for COPD5

View in glossary

Refers to the heart, and blood vessels

View in glossary

A type of medication that aims to slow the scarring and stiffening of lungs to slow disease progression2

View in glossary

Tiny air sacs in the lungs where the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide to and from the blood takes place

View in glossary

A test that shows how well the lungs are working by measuring how much oxygen and carbon dioxide is in the blood. This test requires that a small volume of blood be drawn from the patient3

View in glossary

Techniques that involve breathing in a certain way to control breathlessness and strengthen your lungs

View in glossary

A procedure in which a bronchoscope (a medical instrument like a tube) is passed through the mouth or nose into the lung and fluid is squirted into a small part of the lung and then collected for examination4

View in glossary

A lung condition where the air sacs within the lungs (alveoli) become damaged5

View in glossary

Extreme weariness resulting from exertion or illness

View in glossary

Of unknown cause

View in glossary

Rapid and uncontrolled breathing

View in glossary

A disease where there is progressive scarring or thickening of the lungs without a known cause4

View in glossary

The surgical removal of cells or tissue samples from the lung for examination by a pathologist10

View in glossary

The lung tissue becomes thickened and stiff

View in glossary

A test that uses a type of X-ray that produces multiple, detailed images of areas inside the body4

View in glossary

A burning sensation in the chest, which can spread to the throat, along with a sour taste in the mouth

View in glossary

Where inflamed tissue is replaced with scar tissue, making it thicken and become stiffer4

View in glossary

A symptom where the ends of the fingers become wider and rounder8

View in glossary

A digestive disease where stomach acid moves up out of the stomach and irritates the lining of the food pipe (oesophagus)9

View in glossary

A physician specializing in the management of diseases of the digestive system

View in glossary

An event characterized by sudden, severe worsening of symptoms or an increase in disease severity1

View in glossary

Tests that may be needed for your diagnosis and management3-5

Chest X-ray

This creates a picture of your lungs, revealing shadows that may show the scarring caused by pulmonary fibrosis.

Lung function test

Tests such as spirometry measure how much air you can blow out of your lungs after taking a deep breath.

HRCT

A type of X-ray that gives sharper and more detailed pictures than a standard chest X-ray.

Bronchoalveolar lavage

A small tube is inserted into the lung to take a fluid sample to be examined.

Lung biopsy

During a biopsy, a sample of lung tissue is taken and examined under a microscope

Skin test for tuberculosis

A small injection is given to check for tuberculosis (TB) infection.

Arterial blood gas test

Oxygen and carbon dioxide levels are measured in blood that has been taken from an artery using a needle.

Exercise testing

Will measure how well your lungs move oxygen and carbon dioxide in and out of your bloodstream when you are active.

Pulse oximetry

This test uses a small device clipped onto your finger that estimates how much oxygen is in your blood.

An operation to replace a patient’s diseased lungs with lungs from a donor
View in glossary

The worsening of a disease/condition over time

View in glossary

A formal documentation when someone else is given the responsibility to manage your affairs and make certain decisions on your behalf

View in glossary

Refers to the lungs

View in glossary

A group of tests used to check how well the lungs take in and release air and how well they supply oxygen to the rest of the body14

View in glossary

A type of high blood pressure that affects the blood vessels to the lungs and the right side of the heart15

View in glossary

Therapy that provides relief from symptoms to help patients live more comfortably with their disease13

View in glossary

Administration of oxygen as a medical intervention11

View in glossary

A small plastic tube or prongs that fit in the nostrils to deliver supplementary oxygen11

View in glossary

Listening to and playing music as a therapy which aims to ease the symptoms of those living with IPF

View in glossary

A sleep disorder characterised by breathing that repeatedly stops and starts during sleep12

View in glossary

A specialist who helps someone recover or live with their symptoms more easily

View in glossary

A machine that removes other gases from the air to provide oxygen for oxygen therapy11

View in glossary

An education and exercise program designed to improve the quality of life for people with lung conditions16

View in glossary

A physician specialised in lung problems (also known as a respirologist)

View in glossary

A product that gives protection against a specific infection

View in glossary

A test used to monitor oxygen levels in a patient’s blood, usually with a non-invasive sensor11

View in glossary

A breathing technique to help control breathlessness and reduce anxiety17

View in glossary

A disease that affects only a small percentage of the population

View in glossary

Something that is associated with an increased risk of disease or infection

View in glossary

A technique that helps to reduce stress and anxiety by helping to understand and manage your emotions

View in glossary

Therapies used alongside conventional treatments that help treat symptoms and may improve overall physical and mental wellbeing

View in glossary

A medical study that investigates how safe and effective a new therapy or technique is for treating a certain disease

View in glossary

A disease or condition that occurs at the same time as another disease or condition

View in glossary

A device to deliver compressed air to improve sleep in people with obstructive sleep apnoea6

View in glossary

A disease where a waxy substance (plaque) builds up inside the coronary arteries, which supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle7

View in glossary

A type of chronic disease that typically worsens over time and is characterized by long-term breathing problems and poor airflow. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are older terms used for COPD5

View in glossary

Refers to the heart, and blood vessels

View in glossary

A type of medication that aims to slow the scarring and stiffening of lungs to slow disease progression2

View in glossary

Tiny air sacs in the lungs where the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide to and from the blood takes place

View in glossary

A test that shows how well the lungs are working by measuring how much oxygen and carbon dioxide is in the blood. This test requires that a small volume of blood be drawn from the patient3

View in glossary

Techniques that involve breathing in a certain way to control breathlessness and strengthen your lungs

View in glossary

A procedure in which a bronchoscope (a medical instrument like a tube) is passed through the mouth or nose into the lung and fluid is squirted into a small part of the lung and then collected for examination4

View in glossary

A lung condition where the air sacs within the lungs (alveoli) become damaged5

View in glossary

Extreme weariness resulting from exertion or illness

View in glossary

Of unknown cause

View in glossary

Rapid and uncontrolled breathing

View in glossary

A disease where there is progressive scarring or thickening of the lungs without a known cause4

View in glossary

The surgical removal of cells or tissue samples from the lung for examination by a pathologist10

View in glossary

The lung tissue becomes thickened and stiff

View in glossary

A test that uses a type of X-ray that produces multiple, detailed images of areas inside the body4

View in glossary

A burning sensation in the chest, which can spread to the throat, along with a sour taste in the mouth

View in glossary

Where inflamed tissue is replaced with scar tissue, making it thicken and become stiffer4

View in glossary

A symptom where the ends of the fingers become wider and rounder8

View in glossary

A digestive disease where stomach acid moves up out of the stomach and irritates the lining of the food pipe (oesophagus)9

View in glossary

A physician specializing in the management of diseases of the digestive system

View in glossary

An event characterized by sudden, severe worsening of symptoms or an increase in disease severity1

View in glossary

Who will be in the treatment team?

As well as your main doctor, other specialists and healthcare professionals will make up your treatment team. These specialists can include:

  • Pulmonologists (doctors who focus on the lungs)
  • Rheumatologists (if your pulmonary fibrosis is associated with certain types of underlying disease)
  • Nurses
  • Psychiatrists
  • Occupational therapists
An operation to replace a patient’s diseased lungs with lungs from a donor
View in glossary

The worsening of a disease/condition over time

View in glossary

A formal documentation when someone else is given the responsibility to manage your affairs and make certain decisions on your behalf

View in glossary

Refers to the lungs

View in glossary

A group of tests used to check how well the lungs take in and release air and how well they supply oxygen to the rest of the body14

View in glossary

A type of high blood pressure that affects the blood vessels to the lungs and the right side of the heart15

View in glossary

Therapy that provides relief from symptoms to help patients live more comfortably with their disease13

View in glossary

Administration of oxygen as a medical intervention11

View in glossary

A small plastic tube or prongs that fit in the nostrils to deliver supplementary oxygen11

View in glossary

Listening to and playing music as a therapy which aims to ease the symptoms of those living with IPF

View in glossary

A sleep disorder characterised by breathing that repeatedly stops and starts during sleep12

View in glossary

A specialist who helps someone recover or live with their symptoms more easily

View in glossary

A machine that removes other gases from the air to provide oxygen for oxygen therapy11

View in glossary

An education and exercise program designed to improve the quality of life for people with lung conditions16

View in glossary

A physician specialised in lung problems (also known as a respirologist)

View in glossary

A product that gives protection against a specific infection

View in glossary

A test used to monitor oxygen levels in a patient’s blood, usually with a non-invasive sensor11

View in glossary

A breathing technique to help control breathlessness and reduce anxiety17

View in glossary

A disease that affects only a small percentage of the population

View in glossary

Something that is associated with an increased risk of disease or infection

View in glossary

A technique that helps to reduce stress and anxiety by helping to understand and manage your emotions

View in glossary

Therapies used alongside conventional treatments that help treat symptoms and may improve overall physical and mental wellbeing

View in glossary

A medical study that investigates how safe and effective a new therapy or technique is for treating a certain disease

View in glossary

A disease or condition that occurs at the same time as another disease or condition

View in glossary

A device to deliver compressed air to improve sleep in people with obstructive sleep apnoea6

View in glossary

A disease where a waxy substance (plaque) builds up inside the coronary arteries, which supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle7

View in glossary

A type of chronic disease that typically worsens over time and is characterized by long-term breathing problems and poor airflow. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are older terms used for COPD5

View in glossary

Refers to the heart, and blood vessels

View in glossary

A type of medication that aims to slow the scarring and stiffening of lungs to slow disease progression2

View in glossary

Tiny air sacs in the lungs where the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide to and from the blood takes place

View in glossary

A test that shows how well the lungs are working by measuring how much oxygen and carbon dioxide is in the blood. This test requires that a small volume of blood be drawn from the patient3

View in glossary

Techniques that involve breathing in a certain way to control breathlessness and strengthen your lungs

View in glossary

A procedure in which a bronchoscope (a medical instrument like a tube) is passed through the mouth or nose into the lung and fluid is squirted into a small part of the lung and then collected for examination4

View in glossary

A lung condition where the air sacs within the lungs (alveoli) become damaged5

View in glossary

Extreme weariness resulting from exertion or illness

View in glossary

Of unknown cause

View in glossary

Rapid and uncontrolled breathing

View in glossary

A disease where there is progressive scarring or thickening of the lungs without a known cause4

View in glossary

The surgical removal of cells or tissue samples from the lung for examination by a pathologist10

View in glossary

The lung tissue becomes thickened and stiff

View in glossary

A test that uses a type of X-ray that produces multiple, detailed images of areas inside the body4

View in glossary

A burning sensation in the chest, which can spread to the throat, along with a sour taste in the mouth

View in glossary

Where inflamed tissue is replaced with scar tissue, making it thicken and become stiffer4

View in glossary

A symptom where the ends of the fingers become wider and rounder8

View in glossary

A digestive disease where stomach acid moves up out of the stomach and irritates the lining of the food pipe (oesophagus)9

View in glossary

A physician specializing in the management of diseases of the digestive system

View in glossary

An event characterized by sudden, severe worsening of symptoms or an increase in disease severity1

View in glossary

The treatment team will work together to look after different areas of your health. This approach makes sure you get the care you need and helps to develop a treatment plan specific to you.

A pulmonologist may request a range of tests to understand your disease and symptoms. These can include:3-5

  • Lung function tests to measure how well your lungs are working
  • Exercise tests to measure how your lungs respond to physical activity
  • Pulse oximetry to measure how much oxygen is in your blood

You may also have X-rays or computed tomography (CT) scans to look at the physical structure of your lungs. A radiologist, a specialist in taking X-rays, will take the scan to help your treatment team manage your pulmonary fibrosis.

Once you have received a diagnosis, you might be referred to other healthcare professionals such as a specialist nurse, occupational therapist, cardiologist (a heart specialist), or psychiatrist. They will all be part of your wider treatment team and support the development of different treatment strategies.

For example, the wider treatment team may be able to help you adapt your home, making it suitable for receiving supplemental oxygen therapy should you need it. They can also support you through some of the mental challenges of living with pulmonary fibrosis.

Quick Tip
An operation to replace a patient’s diseased lungs with lungs from a donor
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The worsening of a disease/condition over time

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A formal documentation when someone else is given the responsibility to manage your affairs and make certain decisions on your behalf

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Refers to the lungs

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A group of tests used to check how well the lungs take in and release air and how well they supply oxygen to the rest of the body14

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A type of high blood pressure that affects the blood vessels to the lungs and the right side of the heart15

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Therapy that provides relief from symptoms to help patients live more comfortably with their disease13

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Administration of oxygen as a medical intervention11

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A small plastic tube or prongs that fit in the nostrils to deliver supplementary oxygen11

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Listening to and playing music as a therapy which aims to ease the symptoms of those living with IPF

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A sleep disorder characterised by breathing that repeatedly stops and starts during sleep12

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A specialist who helps someone recover or live with their symptoms more easily

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A machine that removes other gases from the air to provide oxygen for oxygen therapy11

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An education and exercise program designed to improve the quality of life for people with lung conditions16

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A physician specialised in lung problems (also known as a respirologist)

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A product that gives protection against a specific infection

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A test used to monitor oxygen levels in a patient’s blood, usually with a non-invasive sensor11

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A breathing technique to help control breathlessness and reduce anxiety17

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A disease that affects only a small percentage of the population

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Something that is associated with an increased risk of disease or infection

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A technique that helps to reduce stress and anxiety by helping to understand and manage your emotions

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Therapies used alongside conventional treatments that help treat symptoms and may improve overall physical and mental wellbeing

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A medical study that investigates how safe and effective a new therapy or technique is for treating a certain disease

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A disease or condition that occurs at the same time as another disease or condition

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A device to deliver compressed air to improve sleep in people with obstructive sleep apnoea6

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A disease where a waxy substance (plaque) builds up inside the coronary arteries, which supply oxygen-rich blood to the heart muscle7

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A type of chronic disease that typically worsens over time and is characterized by long-term breathing problems and poor airflow. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are older terms used for COPD5

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Refers to the heart, and blood vessels

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A type of medication that aims to slow the scarring and stiffening of lungs to slow disease progression2

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Tiny air sacs in the lungs where the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide to and from the blood takes place

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A test that shows how well the lungs are working by measuring how much oxygen and carbon dioxide is in the blood. This test requires that a small volume of blood be drawn from the patient3

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Techniques that involve breathing in a certain way to control breathlessness and strengthen your lungs

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A procedure in which a bronchoscope (a medical instrument like a tube) is passed through the mouth or nose into the lung and fluid is squirted into a small part of the lung and then collected for examination4

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A lung condition where the air sacs within the lungs (alveoli) become damaged5

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Extreme weariness resulting from exertion or illness

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Of unknown cause

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Rapid and uncontrolled breathing

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A disease where there is progressive scarring or thickening of the lungs without a known cause4

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The surgical removal of cells or tissue samples from the lung for examination by a pathologist10

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The lung tissue becomes thickened and stiff

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A test that uses a type of X-ray that produces multiple, detailed images of areas inside the body4

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A burning sensation in the chest, which can spread to the throat, along with a sour taste in the mouth

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Where inflamed tissue is replaced with scar tissue, making it thicken and become stiffer4

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A symptom where the ends of the fingers become wider and rounder8

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A digestive disease where stomach acid moves up out of the stomach and irritates the lining of the food pipe (oesophagus)9

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A physician specializing in the management of diseases of the digestive system

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An event characterized by sudden, severe worsening of symptoms or an increase in disease severity1

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If you have an appointment scheduled with a member of your treatment team, schedule enough time to get to your appointment early. You will feel less anxious if you don’t have to rush. Arrive 15 minutes early and use that time to read over any notes or questions you may have

Key Takeaways

  • Diagnosis can take a long time as patients with pulmonary fibrosis may have symptoms that are common in many diseases

  • A number of different tests are given to detect and manage pulmonary fibrosis

  • A team of specialists will be involved in detecting, monitoring, and treating pulmonary fibrosis

Show references Hide references
  1. 1.
    1. Cosgrove GP, Bianchi P, Danese S, Lederer DJ. Barriers to timely diagnosis of interstitial lung disease in the real world: the INTENSITY survey. BMC Pulm Med. 2018;18(1):9.
  2. 2.
    1. Meltzer EB, Noble PW. Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Orphanet J Rare Dis. 2008;3:8.
  3. 3.
    1. Wells AU, Hirani N. Interstitial lung disease guideline. Thorax. 2008;63(Suppl V):v1–v58.
  4. 4.
    1. Ohshimo S, Bonella F, Cui A, et al. Significance of Bronchoalveolar Lavage for the Diagnosis of Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2009;179(11):1043–1047.
  5. 5.
    1. British Lung Foundation. Diagnosing pulmonary fibrosis. Available at: https://www.blf.org.uk/support-for-you/pulmonary-fibrosis/diagnosis/. [Accessed April 2019].
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