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Stages of Pulmonary Fibrosis

Pulmonary fibrosis is a chronic disease that gets worse over time, but how fast it progresses is different for everyone. Although there is no standard guide that defines stages of pulmonary fibrosis, doctors use tools to describe how much the scarring in your lungs has progressed. Understanding how severe your condition is helps doctors select a treatment plan tailored to your specific needs. 

Temple pulmonologists use the results of your tests to describe your pulmonary fibrosis as mild, moderate, severe and advanced. 

While not a formal staging system, these levels of disease severity help your doctor monitor you for worsening of the disease over time. This information also helps guide treatment recommendations. Based on severity, a number of treatments may be recommended, including: 

Learn more about what treatment options are available >

Pulmonary Fibrosis Severity Testing

Since there is not a formal staging system to diagnose pulmonary fibrosis, doctors instead determine the severity of your condition in order to develop the appropriate treatment plan. Your doctor will look at different factors including: 


The most common pulmonary fibrosis symptoms are breathlessness and dry cough. But you may experience other symptoms such as tiredness, unexplained weight loss or swelling in the feet and legs. Your doctor will talk to you about the type and frequency of your symptoms to get an idea of how your condition is impacting your daily life.

Pulmonary Function Tests (PFT)

Spirometry is the most common pulmonary function test and it measures:

  • Forced vital capacity (FVC) — how much oxygen you can breathe in and out of your lungs
  • Forced expiratory volume (FEV) — how fast you can exhale within a certain amount of time

6-Minute Walk Test

This test measures your exercise tolerance. During the test, your doctor will monitor how far you can walk at your normal pace on a flat surface for 6 minutes. 

High-resolution CT Scan (HRCT)

High-resolution CT scan is a sophisticated X-ray that displays the fine details of your lung tissue. Doctors look for and measure specific scarring patterns with honeycombing or clusters of air space.

Ready for an Appointment?

If you are experiencing symptoms of pulmonary fibrosis or need to know the severity of your condition, it is important to take the next steps to see a doctor who specializes in pulmonary fibrosis.

Schedule an appointment with a Temple pulmonologist today by calling 800-TEMPLE-MED (800-836-7536).

Massa Zantah

Page medically reviewed by:
Massa Zantah, MD
August 26, 2022