Interstitial Lung Disease

Inflammation and Scarring

Image of Physician Showing Lung Xray on Tablet to Younger Male PatientWhen you breathe, air travels in and out of your lungs through the windpipe (trachea), airways (bronchi), and branching airways (bronchioles). Oxygen and carbon dioxide are exchanged in the tiny air sacs (alveoli). Oxygen passes from the alveoli to the blood vessels through the tissue called interstitium.

With interstitial lung disease, the lungs have inflammation and scarring around the alveoli. The changes make it hard to take in oxygen.

In most cases, interstitial lung disease has no known cause. Some known causes include:

  • Dust from asbestos or silica, gases, fumes, or poisons
  • Some medicines
  • Radiation therapy
  • Certain lung infections
  • Connective tissue disease. These include scleroderma, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Treatment may include medicine, breathing techniques, exercise, and stress management. In some cases, you may need a lung transplant.