Interstitial Lung Disease
(Interstitial Pneumonia, Interstitial Pneumonitis)

Interstitial Lung Disease Summary
Interstitial lung disease, is a term to describe a certain lung condition. Causes of interstitial lung disease include lung infection, exposure to toxins in the environment (asbestos for example), medications (chemotherapy), radiation therapy, and chronic autoimmune disorders. Common symptoms of interstitial lung disease include a dry cough and shortness of breath. Diagnosis and treatment depend upon the cause of the condition.
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Interstitial lung disease facts

  • Interstitial lung disease refers to inflammation in the interstitial tissue of the lungs, the spaces that surround and separate the air sacs.
  • Interstitial lung disease is believed to be caused by an exaggerated or misdirected immune response to various stimuli.
  • Some of the factors that can precipitate the inflammation in interstitial lung disease include certain medications, infections, toxins, and some chronic conditions.
  • If the inflammation of the interstitial tissue leads to scarring over time, the term interstitial fibrosis is used to describe the condition. If the cause is not known, the condition is termed idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
  • Symptoms of interstitial lung disease include shortness of breath and a dry cough.
  • Treatment depends on the underlying cause of the inflammation.
  • Corticosteroid drugs and immune-suppressing drugs may be used in the management of interstitial lung disease.
  • Smoking cessation is essential for those with interstitial lung disease.

What is interstitial lung disease?

Interstitial lung disease is a term used to refer to a particular type of inflammation of the interstitium of the lungs. The interstitium is the tissue that surrounds and separates the tiny air sacs (alveolae) in the lungs. Interstitial lung disease involves an inflammation of this supportive tissue between the air sacs rather than inflammation in the air sacs themselves. Interstitial inflammation is typically a diffuse process that occurs all over the lungs and is not confined to one location.

Sometimes the term "interstitial pneumonia" is used for certain forms of interstitial lung disease. Technically, however, the term "pneumonia" refers to inflammation of the lung tissue that is usually associated with infection. Because interstitial lung disease has a number of causes (most of which are not related to infection), the term "interstitial pneumonitis" is occasionally used to refer to the inflammation that occurs in the absence of true infection.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/12/2013

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