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Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD)


Dr. Flemings
Interstitial lung disease, or ILD, is a group of lung disorders in which lung tissues become inflamed and damaged. Captain Miller, can you tell us about interstitial lung disease?

Captain Miller
Absolutely, Dr. Flemings. The interstitium is a lace-like network of tissue that extends throughout both lungs and provides support to the alveoli. Normally, the interstitium is so thin it can't be seen on imaging studies, such as chest x-rays and CT scans. Interstitial lung disease occurs when inflammation, scarring, or excess fluid causes the interstitium to thicken.

Some types of ILD include:

  • Interstitial pneumonia, which is an infection of the interstitium caused by bacteria or fungi
  • Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, which is a chronic, progressive form of interstitial scarring with no known cause
  • Nonspecific interstitial pneumonitis, which is ILD associated with autoimmune conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis and scleroderma
  • Hypersensitivity pneumonitis, which is caused by ongoing inhalation of dust, mold, or other irritants
  • Sarcoidosis, which is a condition that also causes swollen lymph nodes, and sometimes affects the heart, skin, nerves, or eyes, and
  • Pneumoconioses, which are a group of ILDs caused by inhalation of inorganic dust in industrial or mining settings, such as coal worker's black lung

Shortness of breath and a dry cough are the main symptoms of interstitial lung disease, but over time, the condition can also cause weight loss, fatigue, and muscle and joint pain.

Treatment for ILD depends on the underlying cause.