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.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
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.
Sometimes, the process of inflammation and scarring of the interstitial
tissues of the lungs develops in the absence of a known cause. When no cause can
be identified, this is referred to as idiopathic (unknown cause) interstitial
lung disease or idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Depending upon the location,
severity, and pattern of lung involvement, the idiopathic interstitial lung
diseases have been further subdivided into categories. Examples of different
types of idiopathic interstitial lung disease include: