Interstitial lung disease (ILD) refers to a group of over 200 lung disorders that cause breathing difficulties and vary in severity from mild to life-threatening. This condition affects both men and women after the age of 50.
The root cause of ILD is lung tissue infection, which results in scarring (fibrosis) of the air sacs (alveoli), hindering the lungs’ ability to deliver oxygen to body organs. If the condition worsens, the lungs swell and narrow, resulting in continuous breathlessness.
What are the types of interstitial lung disease?
- Asbestosis. This condition causes the lungs to become inflamed and scarred due to inhaling asbestos fibres.
- Bronchiolitis obliterans. In this disorder, the smallest airways in the lungs, named bronchioles, become clogged.
- Pneumoconiosis. This lung illness occurs due to exposure to coal dust (also called black lung disease).
- Chronic silicosis. A lung illness induced by inhaling silica.
- Connective tissue-related pulmonary fibrosis. This lung condition can affect people with connective tissue diseases, such as scleroderma or Sjögren syndrome.
- Desquamative interstitial pneumonitis; This is an inflammatory lung disease that is more prevalent among smokers.
- Familial pulmonary fibrosis. A condition in which scar tissue accumulates in the lungs of the same family members.
- Pneumonitis hypersensitivity; Swollen alveoli developed by inhaling allergens or other pollutants.
- Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. An unknown cause of scar tissue development across the lung tissue.
- Sarcoidosis; This is an inflammatory condition that creates tiny lumps of inflammatory cells in organs, such as the lungs and lymph glands.
What causes interstitial lung disease?
Certain disorders, such as sarcoidosis or rheumatoid arthritis, have been associated with causing interstitial lung disease. ILD can also be triggered by environmental causes like smoking and breathing industrial toxins, asbestos, silica dust, talc, coal, metal dust and grain dust.
Additional factors causing ILD include the following:
- Taking certain medications, such as heart medications, antibiotics and anti-inflammatories
- Connective tissue or collagen disorders.
- Bacterial, viral, or fungal interstitium infections.
- Genetic predisposition.
- Radiation therapy.
How is interstitial lung disease diagnosed?
Along with a thorough medical history and physical examination, our pulmonologist may request pulmonary function tests to determine the severity of lung disease. These tests assist in determining the lungs’ capacity to transport air into and out of the lungs. They may include the following:
- Spirometer: A device used to check lung function.
- Peak flow meter: This instrument determines how quickly you can expel air from your lungs.
- Blood tests: A blood gas analysis may be performed to determine carbon dioxide and oxygen levels in the blood.
- CT scan: This test combines X-rays and computer technologies to create horizontal, or axial, body images (commonly referred to as slices). CT scans provide more detailed images of the lungs than standard X-rays.
- Bronchoscopy: This is a direct examination of the lungs’ central airways (bronchi) with the aid of a flexible tube called a bronchoscope. Bronchoscopy is used to examine and diagnose lung disorders, inspect for blockages, collect tissue or fluid samples, and assist in removing foreign substances.
- Bronchoalveolar lavage: Extracting lower respiratory tract cells to help identify inflammation and determine potential causes.
- Lung biopsy: Taking a small sample of lung tissue for microscopic examination.
How is interstitial lung disease treated?
Since certain interstitial lung diseases are incurable, advanced or developed lung scarring cannot be fixed with treatment. However, various treatment options aim to prevent more lung scarring, manage symptoms, and help you stay active and healthy. These include:
- Lung transplant surgery.
- Oxygen therapy administered via portable containers.
- Pulmonary rehab.
- Oral medications include corticosteroids, which fight inflammation, and cyclophosphamide to suppress the immune system. Certain medications protect the lungs from further injury and scarring.
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If you are experiencing any Interstitial Lung Disease symptoms, book your consultation with our expert pulmonologist in Dubai today by calling toll-free 8006686, filling out the booking form, or clicking the live chat icon at the bottom of the screen.