Interstitial Lung Diseases What Are Interstitial Lung Diseases?
Interstitial lung diseases (ILDs) are a group of several disorders that can cause scarring in your lungs. The scar tissue in your lungs affects your lungs’ ability to carry oxygen and can make it harder for you to breathe normally.
In ILDs, scarring damages tissues in or around the lungs’ air sacs, or alveoli, and airways. The is the space between the air sacs and the small blood vessels that surround the air sacs. It contains connective tissue. When you breathe, from the air passes through your air sacs and lung interstitium and into your blood. At the same time, moves from your blood through the lung interstitium and into your air sacs.
If you have an ILD, your lung interstitium becomes thick and stiff. This makes it harder for oxygen to move out of the lungs and into the bloodstream and for carbon dioxide to move out of the bloodstream and into the lungs. About 3 out of every 10,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with an ILD every year.
ILDs can be mild, serious, or even life-threatening. Symptoms of ILDs may include shortness of breath, dry cough, chest discomfort, and extreme tiredness.
Your healthcare provider may diagnose your ILD based on your medical and family histories and results from lung tests, blood tests, and genetic testing.
There are many types of ILDs. ILDs may be caused by your , lifestyle habits, your environment, medicines, or other medical conditions.
- Some types of ILDs have no known cause, including the most common type, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF).
- Childhood ILDs can have the same or different causes as ILDs in adults.
- Exposure to dust or mold in your environment can cause some ILDs, including asbestos-related lung diseases and hypersensitivity pneumonitis.
- Some types are more common in men or women. IPF is more common in men, while lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM) primarily affects women.
Treatment for ILDs depends on what type you have and how serious your symptoms are. Your doctor may ask you to avoid substances in your environment that trigger your condition. Treatment for ILDs does not repair the scarring in your lungs. However, early treatment can help slow down or stop lung damage and can help your lungs work better. Your healthcare team can help you learn how to manage your condition to improve your quality of life.