Interstitial Lung Disease - Causes

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What causes interstitial lung disease?

Interstitial lung disease is felt to be caused by a misdirected immune or healing reaction to a number of factors, including:

  • infections of the lungs;
  • toxins in the environment (such as asbestos, silica dust);
  • certain medications (particularly some drugs used as chemotherapy for cancers);
  • radiation therapy to the chest; and
  • chronic autoimmune diseases: connective tissue diseases such as lupus, scleroderma, and rheumatoid arthritis

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:

  • usual interstitial pneumonitis (UIP),
  • bronchiolitis obliterans with organizing pneumonia (BOOP),
  • lymphocytic interstitial pneumonitis (LIP), and
  • desquamative interstitial pneumonitis (DIP).
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See what others are saying

Comment from: Von, Female (Patient) Published: March 27

I also have rheumatoid arthritis and have taken amiodorone for an irregular heartbeat. Medicine appears to have done the job.

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