Interstitial Lung Disease is a collective term used to describe the various lung related diseases that are characterized by progressive scarring of the lung tissue. The scarring may cause lung stiffness and eventually affect your ability to breathe or get enough oxygen into your bloodstream. Dry cough and shortness of breath are the symptoms associated with this condition.
HOW IS INTERSTITIAL LUNG DISEASE DIAGNOSED?
The health care provider will perform a physical exam. Dry, crackling breath sounds may be heard when listening to the chest with a stethoscope.
The following tests may be done:
• Blood tests to check for autoimmune diseases
• Bronchoscopy with or without biopsy
• Chest x-ray
• CT scan of the chest
• Open lung biopsy
• Measurement of the blood oxygen level at rest or when active
• Blood gases
• Pulmonary function tests
• Six minute walk test (checks how far you can walk in 6 minutes and how many times you need to stop to catch your breath)
HOW IS INTERSTITIAL LUNG DISEASE TREATED?
Once the lung scarring initiates, it is often irreversible. There is hence no complete treatment. Medications can be prescribed to delay the damage to the lungs. Lung transplant can be an option to consider for people whose condition continues to deteriorate even when consuming medications.
DID YOU KNOW?
Bacteria, viruses, and fungi are known to cause interstitial pneumonias. Regular exposures to inhaled irritants at work or during hobbies can also cause some interstitial lung disease. These irritants include:
• Silica dust
• Coal dust, or various other metal dusts from working in mining
• Grain dust from farming
• Bird proteins (such as from exotic birds, chickens, or pigeons)