Interstitial Lung Disease

Being a Pulmonary specialist in Kolkata, I regularly deal with interstitial lung disease cases.

Not all lung-related ailments affect the respiratory tract. In interstitial lung disease, the lung tissue is damaged. This happens when the air sacks in the lung and the lung tissue become swollen and reddened. If the swelling does not reduce, then the tissue gets scratched or undergoes fibrosis, and the lung stiffens. It is not always clear why the lung tissue gets inflamed. This condition is also called cryptogenic fibrosing alveolitis or idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

Interstitial Lung Disease Indications

Like many chest diseases, one of the first symptoms of interstitial lung disease is shortness of breath. In the early stages, you will feel this only during heavy exercise. This will worsen as the condition deteriorates. In the later stages, you may become breathless even after having a shower. However, you will not have difficulty in breathing if you sit in one place.

The symptom that can be more stressful for you is dry cough that may worsen after any physical exertion. You may sometimes have a little phlegm in your cough.

Reasons behind Interstitial Lung Disease

Interstitial Lung Disease can be caused by:

  • Inhalation of foreign particles, like metal dust or animal dust. Some of the different types of Interstitial lung disease caused by breathing in foreign material are Asbestosis, silicosis and bird fancierís lung disease
  • Reaction to some special medicines
  • Your internal body may be reacting to some disease and not inhaling foreign particles. For example, Rheumatoid arthritis can cause scarring in the lungs
  • An immunological effect on the lung can also cause another type of interstitial lung disease called Sarcoidosis.
Diagnosis of Interstitial Lung Disease

If I suspect that you have interstitial lung disease, then I will do a thorough checking of your case history. I will, especially, take into consideration your:

  • Occupation
  • Environmental exposure to dust, fuel emission and smoke
  • The medicines you take
  • Hobbies
  • Other ailments

Based on your case history, I will ask you to do:

  • A chest x-ray
  • Blood and urine test
  • Breathing tests - to measure the amount of air going in and out of your respiratory system; to see how good oxygen flow to your lungs is and measure the blood oxygen level
  • A CT scan
  • A bronchoscopy - to get samples of your lung fluid and lung tissue.
Interstitial Lung Disease Treatment

To treat interstitial lung disease cases, as your consultant chest disease specialist, I will have to ask you to:

  • Avoid contact with the source of foreign materials that you are inhaling. For example, not to go near cat dander or birds or fumes
  • Stop smoking
  • Take a yearly influenza vaccine
  • May prescribe oxygen
  • Prescribe corticosteroid drugs if the cause behind the inflammation is not known. I may also give supportive anti-inflammatory medicines, like cyclophosphamide
  • In advanced cases, I may advise lung transplantation.
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