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What is Fibrosis?

By T Thompson
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Fibrosis is the formation of excess fibrous tissues or scar tissue, usually because of injury or long-term inflammation. The two most well-known types of this condition are pulmonary fibrosis, which affects the lungs; and cystic fibrosis (CF), which affects the mucus glands. There also are many other types, including those that affect the heart, skin, joints and bone marrow. Cirrhosis of the liver also is a type of this condition.

Causes

There are many potential causes of this condition. It is sometimes caused by disease or the treatment of a disease. Other causes include injuries, burns, radiation, chemotherapy and gene mutation. Some types of this condition are idiopathic, which means that the causes are unknown.

Effects

Fibrosis causes the affected tissues to harden. They sometimes also swell. These changes can make the tissues unable to function properly. For example, the flow of fluids through the affected tissues is often reduced. When the condition is present in the lungs, they are unable to expand as normal, causing a shortness of breath.

Pulmonary Fibrosis

In the lungs, this condition is called pulmonary fibrosis, and it involves the overgrowth, hardening and/or scarring of lung tissue because of excess collagen. In addition to shortness of breath, the common symptoms include a chronic dry cough, fatigue, weakness and chest discomfort. A loss of appetite and rapid weight loss also are possible. This condition usually affects people between the ages of 40 and 70, and men and women are equally affected. The prognosis for patients with this disease is poor, and they usually are expected to live an average of only four to six years after diagnosis.

Cystic Fibrosis

Another common form of this condition is CF, a chronic, progressive and often fatal genetic disease of the body's mucus glands. Symptoms sometimes include abnormal heart rhythms, malnutrition, poor growth, frequent respiratory infections and breathing difficulties. This condition can also cause other medical problems, including sinusitis, nasal polyps and hemoptysis, or the coughing of blood. Abdominal pain and discomfort, gassiness, and rectal prolapse also are possible.

CF primarily affects the respiratory and digestive systems in children and young adults. The symptoms are often apparent at birth or shortly thereafter; rarely do the signs not show up until adolescence. It is most commonly found in Caucasians, and the prognosis is moderate, with many patients living for as long as 30 years after diagnosis. Although this form of fibrosis was once characterized by death in childhood, modern doctors view it as a chronic illness, with the majority of patients living to adulthood. There was no cure as of 2012, however, and most patients eventually succumb to lung failure or other infections of the respiratory tract.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon288943 — On Sep 01, 2012

What should women eat so they can keep their strength up?

By anon255275 — On Mar 16, 2012

My sister-in-law just had a surgery for fibrosis. Do you think it's cancerous?

By anon172514 — On May 04, 2011

My medical report just showed that there's some fibrosis over my liver. is it due to the strong painkiller(spasmo proxyvon) I have been taking What are the stages of fibrosis and the medications we need in each stages. --Prawsun

By anon158663 — On Mar 08, 2011

does fibrosis have a treatment?

By anon154237 — On Feb 20, 2011

what is fibrosis of the uterus?

By anon153384 — On Feb 17, 2011

Can a person be born with pulmonary fibrosis? and what is the cause of it.

By anon78841 — On Apr 20, 2010

I just had surgery two weeks ago on both of my breasts. I had a thick sticky discharge from both and a large lump in my left one. The final results showed benign fibrocystic changes with focal duct ectasia and fibrosis. Should I be concerned?

By anon55219 — On Dec 06, 2009

i have fibrocystic disease and they told me that i had to watch it and if they got the size of lemons or golf balls they would have to be removed. other than that just let them know during breast exams and have regular mammograms.

By anon51770 — On Nov 09, 2009

Has anyone ever heard of getting fibrosis as a result of having Kawasaki Disease? Or the result of any other disease for that matter?

By anon46660 — On Sep 28, 2009

why are any of you asking questions on here? ask your doctors. That's what they are for.

By anon44559 — On Sep 08, 2009

Santoscoy, I'll bet the doctors found you had fibrocystic disease in your breasts. Don't worry about it. Your mom and grandmother probably had it, too. It does not cause cancer, or lead to any other issues other than having extra films taken for mammograms to rule out anything. You may get a small, sore lump occasionally. If you do, cut down on the caffeine for a week and see if it doesn't go away. I have it and my mom has it. Don't worry about it. Keep doing your breast self-exams every month and having your yearly mammograms. You'll be O.K. Remember to tell the person doing your mammograms that you have it, but other than that, you should be just fine.

By santoscoy — On Sep 08, 2009

The doctors found fibrosis on both of my breasts. Is this cancerous, can it spead to other parts of your body? How dangerous can this be? I'm scared and worried.

By anon42533 — On Aug 21, 2009

I may have fibrosis of the feet. what is it?

By anon40807 — On Aug 11, 2009

There is a cure for many illnesses without the chemicals we have to take. Search for Rife Resonator. My wife had rheumatoid arthritis and this machine helped to cure her of this horrible desease. In South Africa this machine is approved by the Department of Health to be used in the treatment of deseases.

By anon40049 — On Aug 05, 2009

If you have this in the pulmonary fibrosis though, what other symptoms or out-of-the-ordinary things should you look for?

By amazingdoc — On Jun 18, 2009

What is fibrosis, cause and cures?

By avat — On Jun 01, 2009

I was recently diagnosed with Liver Fibrosis. What exactly does that mean? What is the prognosis for this disease?

By rastaman — On Apr 29, 2009

Someone posted a question about fibrosis in their foot I too would like some feedback on that please.

By Beebsy107 — On Apr 25, 2009

I was recently diagnosed with Stage 3 Liver Fibrosis. What exactly does that mean? What is the prognosis for this disease?

By mhunns — On Oct 27, 2008

my othopedic has just said i might have fibrosis in my foot. what does this mean?

By anon12073 — On Apr 29, 2008

I was just diagnosed with fibrosis of the breast. Does this disease travel to other areas? If you have fibrosis of the breast, does that mean you have pulmonary fibrosis. Are there support groups in southern calif? beachwalk1

By anon4841 — On Nov 03, 2007

When I had a mammogram in October an itty bitty something was found and the subsequent needle biopsy revealed that it is a fibrosis.

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