What is it?
Interstitial lung disease describes a group of disorders, most of which cause progressive scarring of lung tissue. The scarring associated with interstitial lung disease eventually affects your ability to breathe and get enough oxygen into your bloodstream. Interstitial lung disease can be caused by long-term exposure to hazardous materials, such as asbestos. Some types of autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, also can cause interstitial lung disease. In some cases, however, the causes remain unknown.
Risks and Symptoms
Once lung scarring occurs, it’s generally irreversible. Medications can slow the damage of interstitial lung disease, but many people never regain full use of their lungs. Lung transplants are an option for some people who have interstitial lung disease.
The primary signs and symptoms of interstitial lung disease are:
- Shortness of breath, made worse by exertion
- Chronic Dry cough
By the time symptoms appear, irreversible lung damage has often already occurred. Nevertheless, it’s important to see your doctor at the first sign of breathing problems. Many conditions other than interstitial lung disease can affect your lungs, and getting an early and accurate diagnosis is important for proper treatment.