Treatments for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF)

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a chronic condition that scars the lungs, and makes breathing difficult. It is a progressive disease, which means it gets worse over time. Once your lungs are scarred by IPF, the damage can't be reversed. However, there are options available that can help manage its impact. Discuss your treatment options together with your doctor and decide on an approach which is right for you.

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Lung Transplant
A lung transplant is the only cure for IPF at the moment, but only a few people are eligible for a transplant. There are risks involved, and importantly, you will need to be matched with a suitable donor, which can take a long time. Your doctor will be able to help explain how the donor process works.

Antifibrotic medicines
Antifibrotics help to reduce inflammation and slow down the rate of scarring in the lungs. While not a cure, this may slow the progress of the disease, increasing the chances of longer survival. Slowing disease progression offers people with IPF the opportunity to hold on to their independence and continue doing the things that matter the most to them. As with all medicines there can be side effects, but your doctor can usually help you manage these.


Pulmonary rehabilitation
Pulmonary rehabilitation is a programme of exercise, training and education designed to maximise the use of your lungs. Over time, the exercises and techniques can help you manage the day-to-day symptoms of IPF and stay as active as possible.

Cough suppressant medicines
It’s common for people with IPF to experience a dry cough, without any phlegm or mucus, which can be tiring or difficult to manage. If you have a cough, there are a number of medicines your doctor can offer you, called cough suppressants, which can help reduce how often you cough.

Antacid medicines
Antacid medicines are available for people with IPF experiencing heartburn and acid indigestion. Depending on how often this happens there are several options doctors can offer for these symptoms. These therapies can also be used in patients without symptoms, to prevent any damage to the lungs from acid reflux.

Oxygen therapy
Oxygen therapy can help with the feeling of breathlessness as you get more oxygen to your body. However, this is often from a tank and can limit how easy it is to move around. As IPF progresses, long term oxygen therapy will become necessary in almost all cases.