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Idiopathic Pulmonary Hemosiderosis (IPH)

What is Idiopathic Pulmonary Hemosiderosis (IPH)? 

IPH is a bleeding problem in the lungs of children. Children may have cough and trouble breathing. They may cough or vomit up blood. They can be tired from loss of blood (anemia). 

Bleeding happens in the lower lung air spaces (alveoli). Children can have small or bigger bleeding events in the lungs. These events can happen over and over again. It is called idiopathic when no other cause is found. 



Treatment of IPH is mostly to support breathing. Children may need ​​oxygen to help keep their oxygen levels normal. They may need positive pressure to help them breathe oxygen in and carbon dioxide out. Children who are very sick with IPH may need to be in the intensive care unit for help breathing. 

Medicines are used to block inflammation in the lungs. The most common medicines are steroids. Other medicines to block inflammation include cyclophosphamide, hydroxychloroquine, azathioprine, mycophenolate, and rituximab. For patients with celiac disease, a gluten-free diet may help stop bleeding events. 

What does IPH mean for my child?

IPH can cause different levels of illness in different children. Some children only have mild bleeding in the lungs. Some children have very bad bleeding that can make them very sick. Some children can die from lung bleeding. It is important to start treatment early to support breathing and treat inflammation. Some children need to stay on medicines for a long time to keep from bleeding.

What to watch out for:

  • If your child is working hard to breathe, talk to a health care provider. If possible. ask to see a lung specialist who is experienced with these conditions.
  • Try to prevent infections from common childhood illnesses. Wash your hands often and ask your friends and family to let you know if they are sick before they are around your child.
  • Get your child’s vaccines and yearly flu shot.

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Author(s): Jenny Cheng Reviewer(s): Katelyn Krivchenia Version: 1.0