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What is Interstitial Lung Disease?

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  • Written By: D. Jeffress
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 27 November 2016
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Interstitial lung disease is a condition in which the lining of a person's lungs gradually become inflamed and scarred, affecting breathing and putting the individual at risk of developing high blood pressure and serious heart problems. The disease can afflict anyone, though it is most prevalent in adults over 50 and those who work with toxic substances, such as asbestos. There is no cure for this condition, but its progress may be slowed by taking prescription medication and making healthy lifestyle choices. An individual who believes he or she is experiencing symptoms of lung disease, such as shortness of breath, wheezing, and coughing, should seek the guidance of a licensed physician to determine the most appropriate treatment and management plan.

There are several different types of interstitial lung disease, though most have very similar symptoms and potential complications. The most common symptom of lung disease is shortness of breath. Individuals in the later stages of the disease may have difficulty breathing during routine daily tasks, such as walking short distances, preparing meals, or having a conversation. Some people experience coughing fits or significant wheezing while engaging in activity. People with lung disease often suffer from oxygen deficiency in the bloodstream, which can lead to an array of health problems, including hypertension and heart failure.

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In many cases, the cause of interstitial lung disease is unknown. Doctors and researchers have determined a number of different possible causes of interstitial lung disease. People are at risk if they live and work around certain harmful substances, including fine silicates, asbestos, animal waste, and grain dust. When airborne particles from such substances are inhaled, they attach to the lining of the lungs and cause significant irritation and scarring over time. Bacterial infections, and the drugs used to treat them, can also put people at risk of developing lung problems. Finally, radiation therapy and drugs used in cancer treatment can lead to permanent scarring of lung tissue.

There are several treatment options available to people suffering from interstitial lung disease. Doctors commonly prescribe oral medications designed to soothe lung tissue and delay the progress of scarring. Many people receive oxygen therapy to provide the lungs with clean air and lower blood pressure. Individuals can also find relief by staying away from airborne toxins and chemical fumes, quitting smoking, and maintaining a healthy diet rich in antioxidants. Engaging in daily exercise and getting adequate sleep can also help restore lung functioning.

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anon339949
Post 4

What are the stages? I have chronic interstitial lung disease.

serenesurface
Post 3

Interstitial lung disease seems like a mysterious disease to me. My grandmother passed away from this but the weird thing is that she had never been around substances that can cause this disease. She was a home-maker her whole life and looked after kids and grand-kids. She was never around chemicals, didn't live close to a mine or factory and she never smoked.

The only thing she went through was a bad cold that developed into pneumonia a couple of years before being diagnosed with ILD. Even though the doctors never said so, I've always wondered if pneumonia was the cause of her disease.

She passed away one year later due to complications from chronic interstitial lung disease.

bear78
Post 2

@ddljohn-- I'm very sorry to hear that. I have ILD as well. I was diagnosed with it ten years ago. I was also in shock and heard not so great things about the disease and what my life expectation is. But believe me, this disease is nothing to generalize about and you need to keep your spirits up so that the treatment goes as well as possible.

I was on several strong medications for about five years after my diagnosis but thankfully we were able to stop the disease from advancing and currently I'm only on one medication. My ILD was not in the advanced stage, so that definitely made a difference. But I was also treated at a

well know hospital in Denver that specializes in lung diseases.

My advice to you is to stay positive and follow your treatments and medications to the T. You may be given steroids or even chemotherapy depending on how advanced the interstitial lung disease symptoms are. If possible, seek treatment from a hospital that specializes in this and see how it goes.

ddljohn
Post 1

Hi. I had a high resolution CT two weeks ago which confirmed that I have interstital lung disease. It's a big shock and I'm still trying to gather myself and learn more about the disease. The information I found so far suggests that interstital lung disease considerably shortens life span and it definitely lowers the quality of life.

I'm still going through testing and my doctor has not confirmed the extent of the interstitial lung disease and the treatment he wants me to start on. I'm very concerned about what's awaiting me and would love to hear from other people who have this disease.

Can you please share your experiences about what I should expect and any suggestions you may have for me? I'm in need of morale and advice.

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