Exploring Research and Advances in Interstitial Lung Disease


Interstitial lung disease (ILD) is a term for a group of conditions that cause inflammation and scarring in your lungs. Eventually, interstitial lung disease-related scarring impairs your breathing and reduces the amount of oxygen reaching your bloodstream. Interstitial lung disease can be caused by long-term exposure to hazardous materials, such as Asbestos. Additionally, interstitial lung disease can be brought on by some inflammatory disorders, such as Rheumatoid Arthritis. In some cases, however, the causes remain unknown. Generally speaking, lung scarring cannot be reversed once it starts. Interstitial lung disease may be lessened by medication, but many patients never fully recover lung function. A lung transplant is an option for some people who have interstitial lung disease.

Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD) encompasses a group of diverse lung disorders characterized by inflammation and scarring of the interstitium, the tissue surrounding the air sacs in the lungs. This illness causes a progressive reduction in lung function, which manifests as weariness, coughing, and shortness of breath. ILD can arise from various causes, including exposure to environmental toxins, infections, Autoimmune diseases, and genetic predispositions. A patient’s medical history, imaging tests such as CT scans, pulmonary function tests, and occasionally lung biopsies are all necessary for the diagnosis.

Dr. Sheetu Singh guide on Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD) represents a comprehensive and invaluable resource for both patients and healthcare professionals alike. She provides insights into the complexity of ILD, clearly explaining its different manifestations, diagnostic techniques, and treatment regimens. She has extensive training and dedication in pulmonology. Her guide emphasizes the importance of early detection and personalized management strategies tailored to each patient’s unique needs. Dr. Sheetu Singh hopes to enable people with ILD to travel their journey with hope and confidence by using her methodical approach and kind treatment.

Symptoms of Interstitial Lung Disease 

Common symptoms of Interstitial lung disease include:

  • Shortness of breath (Dyspnea) that goes worse with exercise or exertion.
  • Fatigue. 
  • Dry Cough. 
  • Chest Discomfort. 
  • Loss of Weight and Appetite.

Typically, symptoms start mildly and develop worse over months or years. Depending on the underlying cause of your ILD, you can experience additional symptoms. Nevertheless, it’s important to see your doctor at the first sign of breathing problems. Your lungs can be affected by a variety of disorders besides interstitial lung disease, and receiving an appropriate diagnosis early on is crucial to effective treatment.

What Causes Interstitial Lung Disease?

It is common to categorize the etiology of interstitial lung disease as either known or unknown. A recognized cause of ILD is when it results from an illness you have or from exposure to external factors such as radiation, drugs, or hazardous materials. If you have ILD without an underlying illness and without exposure to triggers, your condition is termed idiopathic (unknown etiology). It appears that interstitial lung disease develops when a lung injury sets off an atypical healing reaction. Ordinarily, your body generates just the right amount of tissue to repair damage. However, the tissue around the air sacs (alveoli) gets thicker and damaged when interstitial lung disease occurs due to an improper repair process. This makes it more difficult for oxygen to pass into your bloodstream.

Numerous factors, such as medicines, certain medical treatments, and airborne pollutants in the workplace, can cause interstitial lung disease. In most cases, the causes are unknown.

1. Known Causes of Interstitial Lung Disease

Known causes of interstitial lung disease include:

  • Connective tissue disease, including Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), Scleroderma, and Lupus.
  • Granulomatous disease, like Sarcoidosis.
  • Inhaling certain substances, like Silica, Asbestos, Tobacco, and Beryllium. 
  • Allergic reaction to something you inhale (Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis), including Fungi, Molds, Bacteria, and bits of bird feathers or droppings. 
  • Medications or treatments, including Amiodarone, Methotrexate, Nitrofurantoin, and Radiation therapy.

2. Unknown Causes of Interstitial Lung Disease 

Idiopathic interstitial pneumonia is the term used when the etiology of interstitial lung illness cannot be determined by your healthcare practitioner. There are many types of Idiopathic Interstitial Pneumonia. Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is the prevalent ILD that lacks an identified etiology.

What Happens When You Have Interstitial Lung Disease

The components of your lungs that facilitate the transfer of oxygen from your bloodstream to your tissues are injured when you have interstitial lung disease. Scarring in your lungs makes it hard to breathe, and you might have a chronic cough. Lack of oxygen can make feel tired all the time. 

If the damage worsens, you may develop potentially fatal consequences such as lung infections and respiratory failure (a condition in which the body cannot get enough oxygen or carbon dioxide).

What are Examples of Interstitial Lung Disease?

There are over 200 interstitial lung diseases. The most prevalent is idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, which is followed by connective tissue disorders and illnesses brought on by occupational exposures. A few other examples include:

  • Silicosis. 
  • Asbestosis. 
  • Nonspecific Interstitial Pneumonia. 
  • Radiation Pneumonitis.

Who is Most at Risk For Interstitial Lung Disease?

The following factors increase your risk of interstitial lung disease:

  • Are over 70.
  • Smoke or used to smoke. 
  • Were assigned male at birth.
  • Have a history of certain illnesses or conditions, like Pneumonia, Hepatitis C, Tuberculosis, COPD, or Connective tissue disease. 
  • Workaround substances that can irritate your lungs like Silica, Asbestos, Molds, Fungi, or Bacteria. 
  • Have had chest radiation.

How Serious is Interstitial Lung Disease?

Interstitial lung disorders can range widely in severity, from moderate to highly serious. Most kinds of ILD cause irreversible lung damage. The most dangerous ILDs are progressive, indicating that as time goes on, your disease gets worse.

Diagnosis and Tests

1. How is Interstitial Lung Disease Diagnosed? 

Through physical examination, pulmonary imaging, and lung function testing, your healthcare professional will determine the diagnosis of interstitial lung disease. During the examination, they will listen to your lungs to detect any abnormal noises that would indicate a problem with their functioning. They’ll ask you about:

  • Your medical history and any ongoing conditions.
  • medications that you currently take or have previously taken.
  • Whether anyone in your family or any relatives suffers from connective tissue illnesses or specific conditions. 
  • If certain ILD causes are a part of your job or hobbies.

2. What Tests Will Be Done To Diagnose Interstitial Lung Disease?

The following tests could be run by your doctor to identify interstitial lung disease:

  • Pulmonary Function Tests. Most pulmonary function tests involve breathing, but they might also involve blood work or physical activity. 
  • Imaging Tests. High-resolution CT scans or X-rays can be used to get pictures of your lungs.
  • Blood Tests. Your blood will be taken from your arm, and your doctor will examine it for indications of recognized ILD causes.
  • Bronchoscopy. To examine your airways, your doctor will put a small tube, called a bronchoscope, into your mouth or nose and your lungs. 
  • Biopsy. To determine the type of ILD, your healthcare professional will take a tiny sample of tissue from your lung and examine it under a microscope.

Management and Treatment

1. How is Interstitial Lung Disease Treated?

There’s no cure for interstitial lung disease. The goals of ILD treatment often include managing the underlying illness and improving symptoms.  Your doctor may recommend physical therapy, extra oxygen, or medicine to lower inflammation or delay the course of the illness.

2. What Medications and Treatments are Used in Interstitial Lung Disease?

  • Anti-Fibrotic and Cytotoxic Drugs: These drugs can lessen lung scarring. They include Cyclophosphamide, Azathioprine, Nintedanib, and Pirfenidone.
  • Corticosteroids. Prednisone is one medication that can help lower inflammation.
  • Treatment for GERD. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) can make ILD worse, so your provider may prescribe medications to keep stomach acid down.
  • Biologic Drugs. Treatments for autoimmune illnesses and other causes of ILD can involve the use of medications such as rituximab. 
  • Pulmonary Rehabilitation. Your lungs can get stronger and breathing easier with physical therapy and breathing exercises.
  • Lung Transplant. Some people with severe cases of ILD get a lung transplant. 
  • Oxygen Therapy. If there is not enough oxygen reaching your tissues or blood, your doctor will prescribe more. It’s delivered through a mask or tube in your nose.


1. How Can I Prevent Interstitial Lung Disease?

There are numerous preventable causes of interstitial lung disease. By taking care of underlying medical issues and limiting your exposure to hazardous materials, you can lower your risk of developing ILD. 

  • Avoid working near hazardous materials like asbestos, metal dust, or chemicals, or wear a respirator—a mask that filters airborne particles. 
  • Avoid or wear a respirator when working around things that can cause chronic allergic reactions like hay, bird droppings, grain, or feathers, and heating and cooling systems. 
  • Consult your healthcare practitioner about managing your illness to prevent ILD if you have sarcoidosis or connective tissue disease. 
  • Don’t smoke or quit smoking.

2. What are the Complications of Interstitial Lung Disease?

There are potentially fatal consequences associated with severe cases of interstitial lung disease, such as:

  • Collapsed Lung (Pneumothorax).
  • High blood pressure in your lungs (Pulmonary Hypertension). 
  • Respiratory Failure.
  • Lung Infections.
  • Lung Cancer.

What is Interstitial Lung Disease?

The term “interstitial lung disease” (ILD) refers to a collection of lung conditions that primarily affect the interstitium, or the area between the lungs’ air sacs, causing inflammation and scarring.

What are the common symptoms of ILD?

Intentional weight loss, exhaustion, chest pain, coughing up mucus, and shortness of breath are some of the symptoms of ILD. these symptoms may develop gradually and worsen over time.

How is Interstitial Lung Disease diagnosed?

Diagnosis typically involves a combination of medical history review, physical examination, pulmonary function tests, imaging studies (like chest X-rays or CT scans), and sometimes lung biopsies to determine the specific type and extent of lung damage.

What are the treatment options for ILD?

Treatment depends on the underlying cause and severity of the disease. It may include medications to reduce inflammation such as oxygen therapy, Immunosuppressive drugs, pulmonary rehabilitation, and in severe cases, lung transplantation.

Is Interstitial Lung disease curable?

Although interstitial lung disease is often incurable, treatment can help control symptoms, impede the illness’s progression, and enhance quality of life. Early diagnosis and appropriate management are crucial in controlling the disease.

Can Interstitial lung disease be prevented?

Preventive measures include avoiding exposure to environmental toxins or pollutants, quitting smoking, and managing underlying health conditions such as autoimmune diseases.

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Dr. Sheetu Singh, a nationally renowned pulmonologist, Director ILD & Pulmonary Rehab Clinic, is an expert in chest-related conditions. She got her training from SMS Medical College, Jaipur followed by a visit to Cleveland Clinic, USA.

Contact Info

Address: Mahavir Jaipuriya Rajasthan Hospital Milap Nagar, JLN Marg, Jaipur

Mobile: (+91)-8696666380

Email-Id: sheetusingh@yahoo.co.in

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