Interstitial Lung Disease

Interstitial lung disease is a blanket term used to describe a series of disorders that cause progressive scarring of your lung tissue. Expert pulmonologist, Akinyinka Ajelabi, MD, and the team at Kingwood Pulmonary, PA in Kingwood, Texas, specialize in the treatment of interstitial lung disease. Though scarring caused by this condition is irreversible, medications may slow its progression.

Questions & Answers

What is interstitial lung disease?

Interstitial lung disease is a term used to describe an array of respiratory disorders that cause your lung tissue to scar. Left unmanaged, interstitial lung disease affects your ability to breathe and prevents adequate amounts of oxygen from entering your bloodstream.

Interstitial lung disease affects both men and women, but it’s usually a result of long-term exposure to hazardous materials like asbestos. Some types of autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, also increase your risk of developing this condition.

What are the symptoms of interstitial lung disease?

Interstitial lung disease affects everyone the same way. The two most common symptoms it presents are shortness of breath and a dry, raspy cough.

By the time interstitial lung disease presents symptoms, it’s already done permanent damage. However, if you experience trouble breathing, it’s important to schedule an appointment. The sooner you receive an accurate diagnosis, the easier it is to treat.

Who gets interstitial lung disease?

Anyone can develop interstitial lung disease, but there are certain factors that increase your risk, including:

  • Being middle-aged or older
  • Smoking
  • Having gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
  • Undergoing radiation or chemotherapy

You’re also more likely to develop interstitial lung disease if you’re regularly exposed to occupational or environmental toxins. For example, you might develop the condition if you’re a miner, farmer, or construction worker.

How is interstitial lung disease diagnosed?

Interstitial lung disease isn’t always easy to diagnose because its symptoms mimic an array of other respiratory conditions.

To pinpoint the source of your discomfort, your provider reviews your medical history, asks you questions about your symptoms, and does a physical exam. They might also order laboratory tests to detect markers of an autoimmune disease or order diagnostic imaging, such as a CT scan, to determine the extent of scarring and lung damage.

How is interstitial lung disease treated?

Unfortunately, there’s no way to reverse the damage interstitial lung disease causes. However, some treatments may slow the disease’s progression and ease your symptoms.

Depending on the severity of your interstitial lung disease, the team might recommend corticosteroid medications, oxygen therapy, or pulmonary rehabilitation. In severe instances, a surgical operation like a lung transplant may be necessary.

If you regularly experience trouble breathing, interstitial lung disease may be to blame. Request an appointment at Kingwood Pulmonary, PA by calling the office today.