What is Interstitial Lung Disease?
Interstitial lung diseases cover a wide range of lung conditions that cause disease / scarring in the area around the air tubes [the interstitium]. . Scarring can vary from being relatively mild and unclassifiable to being advanced and widespread causing significant and serious breathing difficulties. Some ILDs are associated with other medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. Some ILDs are associated with disease in other organs such as the liver, spleen, skin, eyes, heart and brain, such as sarcoid.
Common symptoms include:
- Dry, Irritating cough
- Productive cough e.g. when ILD occurs with other lung conditions such as COPD or bronchiectasis
- Disease-specific symptoms e.g. iritis in sarcoid
How is ILD diagnosed:
- A combination of the symptoms listed above PLUS additional crackle sounds when the doctor listens to the lungs will raise suspicion, and prompt a chest x-ray which may confirm scarring in the lungs
- All patients for whom a diagnosis of ILD is suspected should be referred to the hospital, as a CT scan of the lungs is required to confirm the diagnosis. May well be asked to attend for a blood test and scan before you are seen by one of the chest doctors.
Conditions: ILD includes many conditions, some of the more common conditions are listed here:
- Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (cryptogenic pulmonary fibrosis)
- Hypersensivity Pneumonitis e.g. bird fanciers lung
- Connective Tissue Disease related ILD
Mainstay of treatment includes:
- Healthy lifestyle including stopping smoking, maintaining a healthy body weight and keeping active
- Dietetic leaflets nourishing snacks and drinks / food first
- Pulmonary Rehabilitation
- Symptom Management - is required for progressive symptoms as some diseases are incurable
- Education about your specific ILD
- Medicines – there are 2 main groups of medicines:
Medicines to suppress the immune system
Medicines to slow down the scarring process - see leaflet