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What is interstitial lung disease?

Interstitial lung disease (ILD) is an umbrella term used for a large group of diseases that cause scarring (fibrosis) of the lungs. ILD makes it difficult for your to breath due to scarring on the lungs, meaning oxygen struggles to get into the blood stream. The scarring caused by this can result in a feeling of tightness and is often an irreversible condition.

 

Signs and symptoms of Interstitial lung disease?

Common symptoms of Interstitial lung disease (ILD) include

  • shortness of breath.
  • a dry cough
  • chest discomfort
  • fatigue
  • occasionally weight loss

If you have any of these symptoms, it is important to see a doctor immediately.

What are the causes and risk factors of Interstitial lung disease?

Although in theory anyone can get interstitial lung disease (IDL), certain factors can increase your risk, such as the use of certain medications, genetics and some medical treatments like radiation or chemotherapy. People with autoimmune diseases such as are also at increased risk of developing an ILD.

In many cases, the direct causes of ILD will be unknown. Smoking can cause ILDs. If you are diagnosed with ILD, your doctor will strongly encourage you to quit smoking because it has been shown to make the condition worse.

How is Interstitial lung disease diagnosed?

If your doctor suspects you have Interstitial lung disease (ILD), they will carry out some tests. This will most likely be a CT scan and a lung function test. If your case is severe, you may need a bronchoscopy or a lung biopsy.

How is Interstitial lung disease treated?

The treatment you receive for ILD will depend on the severity of your condition and the damage to your lungs. In many cases, the scarring and damage to your lungs is irreversible, so your doctor will work on slowing the progression of your condition and managing the symptoms you are experiencing. Common treatments include:

  • Medication to decrease inflammation of the lunch –  such as corticosteroids,
  • Oxygen therapy helps easier your breathing by delivering extra oxygen to your lungs.
  • Pulmonary rehabilitation can help to improve daily life by improving your lung efficiency, improve physical endurance
  • Lung transplants may be offered in extreme cases.