Pulmonary fibrosis: symptoms and relationship with the coronavirus

Pulmonary fibrosis is a disease whose appearance can be one of the consequences of having developed a serious case of coronavirus (Covid-19). Although this is still under study, it is important to find out what it is, what its symptoms are and the forms of treatment that exist according to the severity of the disease.

What is pulmonary fibrosis?

The pulmonary fibrosis occurs when lung tissue is damaged, scars appear that thicken in tissue and make it more rigid, making respiratory function difficult.

Although the formation of scars reacted to this disease can be due to various factors, in most cases doctors cannot determine the causes. When the origin cannot be identified it is called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

This disease is directly related to the coronavirus in two issues. On the one hand, it constitutes a risk factor for developing an advanced degree of Covid-19, because along with heart problems, diabetes and obesity, pulmonary fibrosis is a risk factor.

On the other hand, There are studies that indicate that pulmonary fibrosis can develop as a consequence of having had a case of pneumonia caused by Covid-19. However, it is a subject still under study, like almost everything we know about the coronavirus.

Pulmonary fibrosis: symptoms

The The most common symptoms of pulmonary fibrosis are:

  • Difficulty breathing or dyspnea.
  • Dry cough.
  • Fatigue.
  • Weight loss with no apparent cause.
  • Pain in the muscles and joints.
  • Widening and rounding of the tips of the fingers and toes (clubbing)

Both the course and the severity of symptoms can vary considerably from one person to another. Some get sick very quickly and have more severe symptoms. Others develop the disease and slowly get worse over months or even years.


The first thing to do in order to reach a diagnosis is to review the medical records. Then a chest X-ray is done. It may show the existence of cystic fibrosis, however it can also give "normal" results despite the existence of respiratory distress.

Then, a computed tomography scan is usually ordered additionally, which obtains detailed images and from different angles of these scars caused by the disease. An echocardiogram is also done to see if the changes caused by the disease put any pressure on the heart.

Finally, other studies are carried out such as pulmonary function tests, pulse oximetry to evaluate oxygen in the blood and a stress test or an arterial blood gas, which measures the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood. The biopsy is the most invasive of the studies that can be ordered, obviously depending on the case.

Pulmonary fibrosis: cure

Unfortunately there is still no cure for this chronic disease. What can be done are treatments that improve respiratory function and thus quality of life.

Many times, diseases like that can be caused by exposure to gases and chemicals at a certain point in life, in addition to the aforementioned relationship with severe cases of Covid-19.


There are several treatments that are divided between non-pharmacological and pharmacological.

The non-pharmacological include:

Supplemental oxygen therapy: It has benefits such as an improvement in tolerance to exertion and allows patients to sustain their usual physical activity.

Respiratory rehabilitation: It consists of a kind of respiratory reeducation that increases the capacity to tolerate effort and increases the maximum distance covered in the walking test.

Vaccination: Getting vaccinated against respiratory diseases reduces the risk of worsening the condition from them.

Lifestyle reeducation: It is important to be aware of the treatment to live in the best possible way with fibrosis. Avoiding environmental toxins, following a healthy diet, adapting physical activity, and participating in support groups are some of the things you can implement.

It is important that you take into account the emotional causes that may be leading you to have a respiratory problem. Biodecoding is a treatment that allows us to take into account the origin and emotional factors of these types of conditions. Consider it part of the treatment and you will really feel better.

On the other hand, pharmacological treatments they focus on the inflammatory of the disease, using immunosuppressive and antifibrotic drugs that sometimes have somewhat unpleasant side effects. However, its use depends on the severity of the condition.

Pulmonary fibrosis, life expectancy depends on the severity of the disease. When it reaches a severe state, it is possible to speak of a few years. But there is a lot to do before that to improve life expectancy with pulmonary fibrosis. Treating it on time and improving lifestyle habits is essential.

Sources: Thorax Foundation, Mayo Clinic, Clinic Barcelona,