Interstitial Lung Disease Interstitial Lung Disease

Interstitial Lung Disease

Interstitial lung disease (ILD) refers to a group of lung disorders that cause inflammation and scarring of the lung tissue. These conditions affect the interstitium, the space between the air sacs in the lungs. ILD can lead to progressive lung damage and impair the ability to breathe properly. There are various types of ILD, including idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, sarcoidosis, and hypersensitivity pneumonitis.


  • Shortness of Breath: Gradually worsening breathlessness, especially during physical activity.
  • Dry Cough: Persistent cough that does not produce mucus or phlegm.
  • Fatigue: Feeling tired or exhausted even with minimal exertion.
  • Chest Discomfort: A sensation of tightness or discomfort in the chest.
  • Unexplained Weight Loss: Losing weight unintentionally without changes in diet or physical activity.


  • Occupational and Environmental Exposures: Exposure to certain substances, such as asbestos, silica dust, pollen, dust, or chemicals, can increase the risk of developing ILD.
  • Autoimmune Diseases: Certain autoimmune conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, or scleroderma, can be associated with ILD.
  • Infections: In rare cases, infections such as pneumonia or tuberculosis can lead to interstitial lung damage and subsequent ILD.
  • Medications: Certain medications, such as chemotherapy drugs or some antibiotics, have been linked to the development of ILD in some individuals.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can interstitial lung disease be prevented?

While some types of ILD may be associated with specific causes, such as occupational exposure or certain medications, it is not always possible to prevent all forms of ILD. However, minimizing exposure to known risk factors, maintaining good respiratory health, and seeking early medical attention for respiratory symptoms can be helpful in managing the disease.

What tests are used to diagnose interstitial lung disease?

The diagnosis of ILD often involves a combination of tests, including pulmonary function tests, chest X-rays, high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT) scans, and sometimes lung biopsies. These tests help evaluate lung function, detect abnormalities, and determine the specific type of ILD.

Who is most at risk?

Those most at risk are:

  • Are over 70.
  • Were assigned male at birth.
  • Smoke or used to smoke.
  • Have a history of certain illnesses or conditions, like hepatitis C, tuberculosis, pneumonia, COPD or connective tissue disease.
  • Work around substances that can irritate your lungs, like asbestos, silica, molds, fungi or bacteria.
  • Have had chest radiation.