Interstitial Lung Disease: What Is It All About?
Interstitial Lung Disease
You are probably more familiar with the terms lungs diseases than interstitial lung disease but in reality, they are both the same. The latter refers to the general category where there are different ailments related to lung conditions, which affecting the interstitium, the lung’s anatomic structure part.
Interstitial Lung Disease: Understanding the Ailments
Before talking about the disease, it is always better to talk about the core basic of the issue. You see, the interstitium is a tissue network with lace-like appearance extending to both of your lungs. It supports the alveoli, or the microscopic air sacs in the lungs. Very small blood vessels are moving through the interstitium so there can be gas exchange between lung’s air and blood. The interstitium alone is very thin; you won’t be able to see it in CT scans or Xrays.
When you are suffering from interstitial lung disease, it means that your interstititum is probably thickened, which can happen because of edema (excessive fluid), scarring, or inflammation. Some of the diseases can be irreversible and chronic, while some are short lived. Some of the ailments include:
- Interstitial pneumonia. The instertitium is affected by fungi, viruses, or bacteria.
- Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. It is a type of progressive and chronic scarring (fibrosis) to the interstitium.
- Nonspecific interstitial pneumonitis. It is a condition that often accompanies autoimmune conditions, like scleroderma or rheumatoid arthritis.
- A problem caused by exposure to asbestos
- A problem accompanied by swollen lymph nodes and may involve eye, nerve, skin, or heart.
- Hypersensitivity pneumonitis. A condition resulted from inhalation of mold, dust, and other irritants that is constantly happening
- COP (Cryptogenic Organizing Pneumonia). It looks like a pneumonia but without the infection.
- Acute interstitial pneumonitis. A severe and sudden condition that often requires life support.
- Desquamative interstitial pneumonitis. A condition that is partially resulted from smoking.
This issue can be generally caused by talc, silica dust, asbestos, grain dust, coal dust (or other types of dust from mining activity), and also bird proteins. In some rare cases, it is possible that several medicines can trigger the symptoms but the percentage is pretty small.
Interstitial Lung Disease and the Affected Population
The interstitial lung disease can happen to anyone, from adults to children, from men to women. The symptoms may include breathlessness, which is a short of breath that will get worse when it is not treated. Other common symptoms include dry and nonproductive cough and also weight loss. You will need to consult your doctor and have your condition checked to be sure about your condition.
Treating this ailment isn’t easy but it isn’t impossible either. You may have to take antibiotics, corticosteroids, and Imuran to treat the inflammation and suppress the bacterial activity. Inhaled oxygen can also help for people with low oxygen level. If the problem is quite severe and it hurts the lungs badly, a lung transplant may be the best solution. Keep in mind that the treatments for interstitial lung disease depend on the conditions and causes so always consult and discuss everything with your doctor.
Video created by : OSU Wexner Medical Center