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What is Pulmonary Fibrosis?

In pulmonary fibrosis, the walls of the air sacs (alveoli) become inflamed, and the tissue (interstitium) that lines and supports the sacs becomes increasingly thickened and scarred. Normally, the air sacs are highly elastic, expanding and contracting like small balloons with each breath. But scarring (fibrosis) causes the thin, interstitial tissue to become stiffer and thicker, making the air sacs less flexible. Instead of being soft and elastic, scarred air sacs have the texture of a stiff sponge, which makes it more difficult to breathe and harder for oxygen to enter a person’s bloodstream. The scarring also makes the lungs stiffer and more difficult to inflate.

Pulmonary fibrosis is a chronic, progressive disease and the lung scarring is irreversible. There is no cure for pulmonary fibrosis  (Read more).

What causes Pulmonary Fibrosis?

Long-term exposure to a number of toxins or pollutants can cause serious lung damage, including pulmonary fibrosis.  In the line of duty, firefighters experience occupational exposure to gases, chemicals, particulate, and other substances with potentially damaging long term effects on the lungs.  Firefighters respond to structure fires, car fires, or hazardous materials incidents.  There are certain phases of a fire that create more risk to exposure. It is during the knock-down and overhaul phases that firefighters may incur exposure to toxicants and other respiratory tract irritants  (Read more).

What are the symptoms of pulmonary fibrosis?

  • Shortness of breath, particularly during or after physical activity
  • Chronic cough
  • Crackle sounds in the lungs heard through a stethoscope (Velcro crackles)
  • Fatigue
  • Aching joints and muscles
  • Rounding of the fingernails, called clubbing

How is pulmonary fibrosis treated?

There is no cure for pulmonary fibrosis.  Current treatments are aimed at preventing more lung scarring and relieving symptoms and helping patients stay active and healthy.  Treatment cannot fix lung scarring that has already occurred.

Treatments include:

  • Medicines
  • Oxygen therapy
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation
  • Lung transplant

Support for pulmonary fibrosis.

Art was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis several years ago. Since that time, Art has been treated by the pulmonologists and medical staff at the UC Davis Medical Group, Pulmonary and Critical Care Division, in Sacramento California. The team of doctors and medical staff have helped Art to learn about the disease and treatment and to learn how to manage his symptoms and cope with the disease. He would like to give special thanks to his current pulmonologist, Dr. Brian Michael Morrissey, and physician assistant, Ms. Claudia Vukovich, who are part of the UC Davis team.

Art is grateful for the education and support he’s received from UC Davis Medical Center and now wants to give back and help others fighting and living with this disease.

In an effort to raise support and awareness of the disease, Art plans to donate the proceeds from the sales of any pictures to the UC Davis Medical Center, Pulmonary and Critical Care Division. Art believes that fundraising is a way to give back and hopes to make a positive impact on pulmonary fibrosis. This motivates Art and helps him to continue moving forward.

UC Davis Medical Group
Pulmonary and Critical Care Division
2825 J Street, Suite 400
Sacramento, CA 95816
Main Line: (916) 734-2737

Other sources:

Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation

230 East Ohio Street, Suite 304

Chicago, Illinois  60611



Mayo Clinic




Respiratory Diseases and the Fire Service

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This publication was developed through a Cooperative Agreement between the Department of Homeland Security, United States Fire Administration, and the International Association of Fire Fighters.