What causes hardening of the lungs?


Hardening of the lungs is caused by the lung disease idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. North Carolina State University goes on to explain that the reason for this is still a mystery for the most part.

According to North Carolina State University, the hardening of the lungs in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is likely caused by an overgrowth of fibroblasts, which are cells that produce connective tissue. Instead of producing connective tissue at a regular rate that occurs in healthy lungs, fibroblasts in someone with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis continue overproducing. This overproduction results in excessive scar tissue that hardens the lungs and does not give them the flexibility required for breathing. When this happens, insufficient oxygen reaches the rest of the body.

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis occurs in older people. On average, patients die from the disease within about 3 to 5 years after contracting the disease because of respiratory failure or an inability to breathe. People with this disease can also contract pneumonia and lung cancer, which are both potentially fatal conditions. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute reports that some scientists think that this disease is genetic.

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