Signs and symptoms of IPF

IPF finger clubbing

Signs of IPF

  • Weight loss- which is unexplained.
  • Finger clubbing- a deformity of the nail which appears rounded. The cause is unknown. see picture.
  • Breathlessness - on exertion, progressively worsening over time.
  • Breath sounds - fine crackles mostly at lung bases sounds like sound Velcro when listened to through a stethoscope.


Symptoms of IPF

  • Progressive breathlessness during activity.
  • Dry cough.
  • Fatigue.
  • Aching muscles and joints.

Diagnostic tests

A number of diagnostic tests are used to detect IPF. In the early stages of the disease some of the fibrotic changes are difficult to detect.

  • Chest X-Ray - however this can often appear to be normal in early stages of IPF.
  • Bronchoscopy – a tube is passed into the lung to look for signs of fibrosis in the airways.
  • High Resolution Computer Tomography- cross-sections of the body provide detailed images of the lung tissues.
  • Pulmonary Function Tests:
    • Spirometry is often normal until the IPF is at an advanced condition.
    • (TLco test) Patients will often have reduced gas transfer on this test to measure the amount of oxygen getting in to the blood. This can be an early indictor for IPF.
  • Lung biopsy - to sample lung tissue for microbiological tests. (An invasive test which carries a risk so is used less often).
Additional information
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Insights in IPF: Auscultation of Breath Sounds in IPF (audio)