The cause of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is not completely understood. No one knows what causes idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis or why some people get it. "Idiopathic" means of unknown cause. Common risk factors for IPF include:
- Genetics (family history): Up to 20% of people with IPF have another family member with an interstitial lung disease. If more than one member of your family has IPF, the disease is called familial pulmonary fibrosis.
- Cigarette smoking: Approximately 75% of people with IPF are current or previous cigarette smokers.
- Acid reflux (gastroesophageal reflux disease [GERD]): Approximately 75% of people with IPF have symptoms of acid reflux or heartburn.
- Male sex: Approximately 75% of patients with IPF are male.
- Age: Almost all patients with IPF are over the age of 50 years