Interstitial lung disease (ILD) is a term that includes a variety of chronic lung disorders, including pulmonary fibrosis. In ILD, the walls of the air sacs in the lungs may become inflamed, and the tissue (interstitium) that lines and supports the sacs can become increasingly thickened and scarred. This scarring can cause the lung to become stiff and cause shortness of breath and interfere with lung function.
ILD can be a difficult disease to treat, sometimes progressing slowly, and in other patients, very quickly.
- Shortness of breath
- Labored breathing
- Dry, unproductive cough
- Fatigue and weakness
Note: Symptoms of ILD can vary greatly among individuals.
Causes can include:
- Environmental factors such as exposure to asbestos or metal dust
- Sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease of the lungs
- Drug interactions or side effects
- Radiation therapy
- Connective tissue disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis
Diagnosis and Treatment
ILD can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms mimic those of many other medical conditions. In addition to doing a physical exam and taking your medical history, your doctor make use the following diagnostic procedures: chest x-rays, pulmonary function measurement, CT scans, bronchoalveolar lavage to remove cells from the lower respiratory tract, or bronchoscopy to obtain tissue samples.
Treatment of ILD can include medications, pulmonary rehabilitation and oxygen therapy to relieve shortness of breath. In certain cases, a lung transplant may be appropriate.