Types of pulmonary fibrosis

Pulmonary fibrosis is also known as interstitial lung disease. There are many types of pulmonary fibrosis.


Asbestosis is a type of scarring of the lungs or pulmonary fibrosis caused by the building material asbestos. It usually develops many years after exposure to asbestos.

COVID-19-related pulmonary fibrosis

Early studies suggest that some patients with severe COVID-19 are at risk of pulmonary fibrosis (scarring of the lungs). We don’t yet know how many people this affects or the long-term implications.

Drug-induced pulmonary fibrosis

Certain medications can cause inflammation and scarring or fibrosis of the lungs. This usually affects older people.

Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis (HP)

Hypersensitivity pneumonitis is caused when the lungs react to repeated inhalation of a dust, most commonly from an occupation or hobby.

Classic examples of at-risk groups are pigeon breeders and farmers. For some people, hypersensitivity pneumonitis can reverse when there is no more exposure to the dust. For others, the condition can be progressive and behave like IPF.

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF)

The most common form of PF is Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF). Idiopathic is a medical term that means the cause is unknown. Familial IPF is a term that maybe used when one or more family members are also affected by pulmonary fibrosis.

Idiopathic NSIP

Non-specific interstitial pneumonia (NSIP) patients are usually younger that people with IPF, and more likely to be female.


Pneumoconiosis is usually caused by breathing in dusts at work. The longer you’re exposed to the dust, the higher your risk of developing pneumoconiosis. There are different types of pneumoconiosis, depending on the type of dust. The most common is coal workers’ pneumoconiosis or black lung disease. ‘Brown lung’ is pneumoconiosis caused by breathing in cotton dust.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Interstitial Lung Disease (RA-ILD)

Rheumatoid arthritis most commonly affects the joints, but the inflammatory process that underlies rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can also affect other parts of the body, including the lungs. One in 10 people with rheumatoid arthritis are likely to develop PF, which is known as rheumatoid arthritis interstitial lung disease.


Sarcoidosis (where immune cells clump together to make small patches of swollen tissue called granulomas) is most commonly found in the lungs and skin. We know that it can be linked to the immune system not working at it should, but we don’t yet know why.


Silicosis is a type of pulmonary fibrosis, caused by breathing in silica dust. It usually develops many years after exposure to silica dust.

Systemic sclerosis

Systemic sclerosis is an autoimmune condition. It is rare condition and more commonly affects women. It usually starts between ages 25-55 years but has been reported in children and older people.

Information provided by Action for Pulmonary Fibrosis (APF) is not a substitute for professional medical advice. It’s intended as general information only. APF is not responsible for any errors or omissions or for any loss or damage suffered by users resulting from the information published on actionpf.org.

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