What is Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD)?

Interstitial lung disease (ILD) is a category of lung disorders characterized by inflammation and/or scarring of the lung tissue. Such damage can affect the ability to breathe, to function, and to get adequate oxygen into the blood stream.

Causes of Interstitial Lung Disease

Many factors are known to cause ILD, including the following:

  • Autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma and dermatomyositis
  • Certain medications, including sulfonamides, nitrofurantoin, bleomycin, and methotrexate
  • Exposure to environmental hazards, including coal dust, asbestos, silica dust, and cotton dust
  • Chronic exposure to organic substances such as bird droppings or molds
  • Radiation therapy that is delivered to the chest
  • Genetic factors or predisposition 

For cases in which the cause of ILD is unknown, the condition is referred to as “idiopathic ILD.”

Symptoms of Interstitial Lung Disease

The most common symptoms of ILD include the following:

  • Shortness of breath that may worsen over time
  • Dry cough
  • Weight loss, joint and muscle pain, and fatigue may also develop 

Types of Interstitial Lung Disease

The most common types of interstitial lung disease include the following:

  • Idiopathic interstitial pneumonias including idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis
  • Connective tissue or autoimmune associated diseases
  • Chronic hypersensitivity pneumonitis (inflammation of the lung)
  • Drug related interstitial pneumonias
  • Familial or genetic interstitial lung diseases

Common Co-Morbidities 

Co-morbidities that are most likely to occur with chronic ILD include the following:

  • Deconditioning
  • GERD (gastro esophageal reflux disease)
  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)
  • Sleep disorder breathing
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Psychiatric stress and depression
  • Osteoporosis
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Pulmonary hypertension