What is meant by interstitial lung disease?
Interstitial lung disease is referred to inflammation caused in interstitium tissue of lungs. This tissue divides tiny alveoli (air sacs) inside lungs. In interstitial lung disease, inflammation arises inside tissue between alveoli than inside air sacs. This disease can occur in whole lungs and not necessary at one location. Interstitial lung disease is often termed as interstitial pneumonia. In actual sense, pneumonia refers to infected tissues. Interstitial pneumonitis is referred to inflammation occurring in absence of any infectious cause.
Causes of Interstitial lung disease
Interstitial lung disease can be mainly caused due to infection in lungs, environment pollutants, misdirected immunity, radiation therapy to chest, certain medications, chronic autoimmune diseases, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or scleroderma.
When there is no cause known for the disease, it is called idiopathic interstitial lung disease. There are sub-categories of these lung diseases. These sub-categories depend on severity, pattern and location of lung involvement.
Kinds of Interstitial Lung Disease
- UIP: Usual Interstitial Pneumonitis
- LIP: Lymphocytic Interstitial Pneumonitis
- DIP: Desquamative Interstitial Pneumonitis
- BOOP: Bronchiolitis Obliterans with Organizing Pneumonia
Diagnostic procedures for Interstitial Lung disease
Interstitial lung disease can be diagnosed on the basis of physical examination of a patient. There are various tests used to diagnose interstitial lung disease, including:
- X-Rays and CT Scans are taken for patients to check the disease level and rule out any unevenness in lungs.
- Blood tests are taken for checking initial stage diagnosis and checking lung diseases.
- Oxygen levels can be measured to check respiratory system.
- Biopsies can be taken of the lungs and tissue samples can be taken to be reviewed by pathologist.
- PFT (Pulmonary Function Tests) are used to measure working of lungs. It can be done through Spirometer test.
Symptoms of Interstitial Lung Disease
- Shortening of breath: This is a common symptom for interstitial lung disease. There is lessened oxygen supply inside lungs and patient is unable to breathe properly. It is due to thickening and inflation in lung tissues. Thick and stiff tissues can’t allow proper air exchange.
- Chronic cough: Patients having lung diseases can get dry or mucus inclusive coughing. These symptoms develop with time. It can chronically reduce levels of oxygen and result into enlargement of fingertips (clubbing) and heart.
- Long term disease: Interstitial disease can lead to permanent problems like high BP, hypertension and utmost cases might lead to heart failure. Long term projection of disease might lead to respiratory failure.
Interstitial lung disease treatment
Lung disease treatment can be done in numerous ways. It is essential for doctors to review the overall status of patient before making any decision for their treatment. Commonly, immune system of a person is made strong. Drugs like corticosteroid, azathioprine, cyclophosphamide or steroids are given to patients to get proper treatment. Patients might get oxygen therapy or protein therapy to improve efficacy of lungs. Patients having interstitial lung disease should quit smoking completely. In severe cases, surgical procedures are undertaken to prohibit the disease to grow to higher levels.
Patients are expected to take proper diet and supplements to build a strong immunity. It can restrict the infections to enter into body and get cured soon. Earlier you get symptoms of the disease, it would be better to get treatment for the disease. Interstitial lung disease can be managed with precautions and medications.