Interstitial lung disease is the umbrella term used to describe a large group of lung disorders that cause progressive scarring of the lung tissue, usually as a direct result of exposure to harmful materials. The scarring in the lungs impedes the ability for you to get enough oxygen and results in symptoms that include a chronic dry cough and shortness of breath that worsens with activity.
Interstitial lung disease (ILD) can be caused by several factors including autoimmune disorders, including rheumatoid arthritis, and long-term exposure to hazardous materials such as asbestos.
Normally, when you are exposed to harmful substances in the air you breathe, your lungs become irritated and your body initiates a healing response. With long-term exposure and repeated lung insult, your lung tissue builds up scarring. The thick scar tissue does not allow for perfusion, or the absorption and delivery of oxygen to your body, which worsens over time and exposure.
Interstitial lung disease can be caused by several factors including radiation treatment, certain medications, autoimmune disease, and exposure to respiratory toxins or pollutants.
Symptoms vary from person to person. The disease may progress slowly or rapidly. A person with the disease may experience mild, moderate, or severe symptoms. The condition may stay the same for a long time. Or it may change quickly. The course of the disease is unpredictable. If it progresses, the lung tissue thickens and becomes stiff. Breathing becomes more difficult.
Some of the most common symptoms associated with ILD are
There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for ILDs, as the treatments vary depending on the specific disease. However, most ILDs require aggressive treatment with medications and/or oxygen therapy. Some people may also require surgery to remove damaged tissue from their lungs.