What are the causes of pulmonary fibrosis?
In most types of pulmonary fibrosis a specific cause cannot be found. One of the more common types is idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). The word ‘idiopathic’ means there is no known cause.
In a few cases, it’s possible to identify a specific cause, such as:
- being exposed to certain types of dust - including wood or metal dusts or asbestos
- being exposed to allergens carried in the air - such as bird feathers or mould
- a side effect of a drug
Some types of pulmonary fibrosis are more likely to occur when you have another condition such as rheumatoid arthritis or scleroderma. These are sometimes called connective tissue disease related ILDs or CT-ILD
Is it inheritable?
In a very few cases, two or more members of a family may develop pulmonary fibrosis. There are many complex ways in which it’s possible to inherit a tendency to pulmonary fibrosis, and not all are well understood.
Current UK data sets suggest that less than 10% of people with pulmonary fibrosis have an inheritable disease. Genetic testing isn’t routinely available for people with pulmonary fibrosis. But there are some rare but well-known inheritable conditions that cause pulmonary fibrosis, such as dyskeratosis congenita. If, you or a family member, has one then you may be offered genetic screening.
Smoking can cause some very specific kinds of pulmonary fibrosis such as desquamative interstitial pneumonia and respiratory bronchiolitis-interstitial lung disease.