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Last Updated: May 18, 2023

Interstitial Lung Disease - Know More!

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Dr. Rakesh ChawlaPulmonologist • 42 Years Exp.MBBS, MD - Respiratory Medicine , Trained In Treating Sleep Disorder , Trained In Interventinal Bronchoscopy , Trained In Medical Thoracoscopy , Trained In Rigid Bronchoscopy
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Interstitial lung disease is an umbrella term that includes a number of conditions that causes scarring of the tissues of the lungs. This scarring can hamper your breathing and therefore cause less oxygen to be present in your blood.

When you are exposed to hazardous materials like asbestos for long periods, you can get interstitial lung disease. Even autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis can result in this condition. 

Once the tissues of your lungs are scarred, chances are that it can’t be reversed. While medications can slow the progress of the but you won’t be able to regain the full functionality of your lungs. In such cases, you can consider a lung transplant.

What are the signs?

You will difficulty in breathing – it may be aggravated when you exert yourself or you may experience shortness of breath during rest periods. A dry cough is another sign of this condition.

What causes it?

Interstitial lung disorders occur when you’ve had an injury in your lungs that set off an abnormal healing process. With the healing not happening in a normal way, the tissues around your air sacs tend to thicken and get scarred. The does not allow oxygen to get into your blood.

There are certain triggers for this condition – 

  1. If you are exposed to certain pollutants or toxins like silica dust, bird dropping and grain dust for long periods.

  2. Medications like chemotherapy drugs, anti-inflammatory drugs and heart medications.

  3. If you have the following medical disorders – scleroderma, rheumatoid arthritis, mixed connective tissue disease, dermatomyositis, Sjogren's syndrome and sarcoidosis.

What is the treatment? 

First, a doctor will carry out diagnostic tests to identify the cause of the problem. The following tests are usually performed –

  • Blood tests to detect autoimmune responses to pollutants

  • Imaging tests like CT scan and echocardiogram

  • Tests like oximetry and spirometry to determine your lung’s capacity

  • Surgical biopsy and bronchoscopy to analyse your lung tissue

Once the diagnosis is done, the doctor can suggest any one of them or a combination of the following methods –

1. Medications 

Corticosteroids are used to suppress the immune system. GERD can also damage your lungs, so you may be given medicines to reduce stomach acid if you have an excess of it.

2. Oxygen therapy

Oxygen therapy can help you with breathing and help you sleep better. But it won't stop damage to the lung tissues.

3. Pulmonary rehabilitation

Pulmonary rehabilitation can help you perform your daily tasks without any hitch. It includes exercise, breathing techniques, eating healthy and emotional support.


If nothing else works, then the doctor may recommend a lung transplant. 

Moreover, there are certain lifestyle remedies that you can adopt –

  • Avoid smoking as it can aggravate your condition.

  • Eat a healthy and nutritious diet.

  • Take vaccines for respiratory infections like the flu and pneumonia.

The best way to deal with this disorder is to not have it at all. But with proper treatment, your symptoms can be reduced.

In case you have a concern or query you can always consult a specialist & get answers to your questions!

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