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Definition of Interstitial Lung Disease

Interstitial lung disease is actually an umbrella term whichis commonly used for a group of different types of disorders which are mostlyassociated with progressive scarring of the tissue located inside the lungs. Inmost cases of interstitial lung disease, the biggest problem with theaforementioned scarring of the lung tissue is the reduced ability to breathewhich leads to reduced amount of oxygen in the patient’s bloodstream. Anotherbig issue with this scarring is that once it occurs it cannot be reversed.There are several different types of medicaments which can be used to slow down thedamage and lung transplants are another option but it is actually a very trickyone. This type of medical condition is commonly characterized by certainsymptoms such as dry cough and shortness of breath which often gets furtheraggravated by exertion. Interstitial lung disease may sometimes lead to certainlife threatening medical conditions and complications and those includerespiratory failure, right ventricle heart failure and high blood pressure inthe lungs which is medically referred to as pulmonary hypertension.

Statistics on Interstitial Lung Disease

According to various scientific studies, the interstitiallung disease commonly affects men much more than it affects women, but it isvery hard to follow any statistics on this medical condition since not allcases are carefully noted. It has been estimated that 15% of all respiratoryphysician visits in the United States occur mainly because of interstitial lungdisease. In numbers, it adds up to 100,000 American citizens suffering fromthis disease each year. Only 15% of cases of interstitial lung disease can beconsidered as immediate causes of death. This medical condition ends in deathonly in less than 50 percent of all cases.

Causes of Interstitial Lung Disease

Interstitial lungdisease can be triggered by a large number of different causes and factors, butthe big problem is that in most cases the exact cause is very hard to pinpoint.Unfortunately, once a person notices any symptoms, the damage commonly alreadyoccurs so it is of utmost importance to pay a doctor a visit as soon aspossible. An early, proper diagnosis is the only way to proper treatmentmethods which sometimes may even save one’s life, depending on the severity ofthe condition and the damage it has caused. In normal conditions, the humanbody is able to repair the damage to the lung tissue simply by generating newtissue, but in cases of interstitial lung disease a sort of abnormal healingresponse occurs and it leads to the scarring and thickening of the tissue whichsurrounds the air sacs. This is why oxygen cannot pass into the bloodstream theway it should. There are certain types of medical conditions which may lead tothe development of interstitial lung disease and the most common ones includescleroderma, sarcoidosis, rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupuserythematosis. Unfortunately enough there are also a large number of differenttypes of medications which can be held responsible for the damage of the lungtissue. Antibiotics such as sulfasalazine and nitrofurantoin, heart medicationssuch as propranolol and amiodarone and chemotherapy drug such ascyclophosphamide and methotrexate are the ones which are usually associatedwith the scarring of the lung tissue. People who receive radiation therapy as atreatment for the breast cancer or lung cancer sometimes also experience lungdamage, but there are certain factors which determine the severity of thedamage and those include the presence of some underlying lung disease, thepresence or absence of chemotherapy in the treatment plan, the total amount ofradiation administered and the size of the portion of the lung exposed to theradiation treatment. The lung tissue may also be damaged due to the long termexposure to various different types of pollutants and toxins. The most commonones include bird and animal droppings, grain dust, asbestos fibers and silicadust. There are also other factors and causes which may trigger the onset oflung tissue damage and interstitial lung disease and those include excessive exposureto therapeutic oxygen, smoking and simple effects of the process of aging.

Management of Interstitial Lung Disease

In order to properly diagnose the medical condition, thedoctor needs to be well informed on the symptoms which are present, anytreatments for other medical conditions, any supplements taken in the recenttime, the patient’s occupations and any chronic lung diseases in the patient’sfamily. There are certain imaging tests which need to be conducted and thoseinclude chest X-ray, computerized tomography and echocardiogram. Furtherpulmonary function tests commonly include the ones called spirometry, oximetryand exercise stress test. Lung tissue analysis may be required in some cases,and the ways of obtaining a tissue sample include bronchoscopy, bronchoalveolarlavage and surgical biopsy. The treatment options for those who suffer frominterstitial lung disease include corticosteroids, oxygen therapy, pulmonaryrehabilitation and surgery. One needs to stop smoking and also to establish ahealthy and well balanced diet.

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