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Interstitial lung diseases (ILDs) are a large group of disorders characterized by thickening of the walls between the alveoli, increased production and buildup of collagen, and pulmonary fibrosis (progressive scarring of lung tissue). The scarring eventually affects the ability to breathe and get enough oxygen into the bloodstream. Symptoms typically include shortness of breath and a dry cough.
There are numerous possible causes of ILD, including connective tissue disorders, autoimmune diseases (e.g. rheumatoid arthritis), occupational exposures (such as asbestos), infection, and many drugs. Specific diseases leading to ILD may include sarcoidosis, pulmonary Langerhans cell histiocytosis, and eosinophilic pulmonary diseases. The list of substances and conditions that can lead to ILD is long. However, in many cases, the cause is not known. Some cases of unknown cause that share similar characteristics are called idiopathic interstitial pneumonias.
Lung scarring that occurs in ILD is permanent. However, some treatments may temporarily improve symptoms or slow the disease's progress. Treatment options may include various medications, oxygen therapy, pulmonary rehabilitation, and as a last resort, lung transplantation.
Last updated on 05-01-20
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