Interstitial Lung Diseases

At INTEGRIS, our goal is to help you breathe easier, with a multidisciplinary team that will do everything in their power to treat your interstitial lung disease.

The ins and outs of interstitial lung diseases.

What Is ILD?

If you've been diagnosed with an interstitial lung diseases, or ILD, you have a disease affecting the tissue and space around the air sacs in your lungs. Normally, your body makes just enough tissue to repair damage in your lungs, but in ILD, it makes too much. This causes scarring and thickening of the tissue around your lungs, and in turn makes it more difficult for oxygen to get into your bloodstream.

The symptoms and course of these diseases may vary from person to person, but the common link between the many forms of ILD is that they all begin with an inflammation of your bronchioles, alveoli or small blood vessels. These diseases may also be called interstitial pulmonary fibrosis or pulmonary fibrosis.

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The cause of interstitial lung disease is not known, but a major contributing factor is thought to be inhaling environmental or occupational pollutants, such as inorganic or organic dusts.

At INTEGRIS, our goal is to help you breathe easier, with a multi-discipline team that will do everything in their power to treat your breathing problem and fight diseases of your lungs and the tissue around them.

Understanding Interstitial Lung Diseases

The following are the most common symptoms for interstitial lung diseases. However, you may experience symptoms differently – and these symptoms may resemble other conditions or medical problems, so it’s always best to talk with your doctor. Interstitial lung disease symptoms include:

  • Shortness of breath, especially with exertion
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of weight
  • Dry cough that does not produce phlegm
  • Discomfort in the chest
  • Labored breathing
  • Hemorrhage in the lungs

In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination, your doctor may request the following tests:

  • Pulmonary Function Tests: Diagnostic tests that help to measure the lungs' ability to exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide appropriately. The tests are usually performed with special machines that the person must breathe into, and may include the following:
  • Spirometry: The test is performed by blowing as hard as possible into a tube connected to a small machine (a spirometer) that measures the amount and speed of air breathed in and out. This is one of the simplest, most common pulmonary function tests and is used for the following:
    • Determining how well the lungs receive, hold and utilize air
    • Monitoring lung disease
    • Monitoring effectiveness of treatment
    • Determining severity of a lung disease
    • Determining whether the lung disease is restrictive (decreased airflow) or obstructive (disruption of airflow)
  • Peak Flow Monitor (PFM): A device used to measure the fastest speed which you can blow air out of your lungs. During an asthma or other respiratory flare up, the large airways in the lungs slowly begin to narrow. This will slow the speed of air leaving the lungs and can be measured with a PFM. This measurement is very important in evaluating how well or how poorly the disease is being controlled.

Other Tests:

  • Chest X-Rays: A diagnostic test that uses invisible electromagnetic energy beams to produce images of internal tissues, bones, and organs onto film.
  • Blood Tests: Arterial blood gas to analyze the amount of carbon dioxide and oxygen in the blood.
  • High-Resolution Computed Tomography Scan (also called an HRCT, CT, or CAT Scan): A diagnostic imaging procedure that uses a combination of X-rays and computer technology to produce detailed images of any part of the body, including the bones, muscles, fat, and organs.
  • Bronchoscopy: The examination of the bronchi (the main airways of the lungs) using a flexible tube (bronchoscope). Bronchoscopy helps to evaluate and diagnose lung problems, assess blockages, obtain samples of tissue and/or fluid, and/or to help remove a foreign body. Bronchoscopy may include a biopsy or bronchoalveolar lavage.
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage: A medical procedure to remove cells from the lower respiratory tract to help identify inflammation and exclude certain causes.
  • Lung Biopsy: A procedure to remove tissue from the lung for examination in the pathology laboratory.

Specific treatment for your interstitial lung disease will be determined by your doctor based on your age, overall health, medical history, the extent of the disease and your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies. Of course, your personal opinions and preferences will also be taken into consideration. Treatments may include:

  • Oral Medications: Including corticosteroids and cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan).
  • Oxygen Supplementation: From portable containers.
  • Pulmonary Rehabilitation
  • Lung Transplantation

Our pulmonary rehabilitation programs at INTEGRIS help you by creating individualized plans and education, so you can do more things you enjoy. Support services include:

  • Stress management, relaxation exercises and emotional support
  • Medication management
  • Exercises for physical conditioning programs
  • Assistance with obtaining respiratory equipment and portable oxygen
  • Lung medication
  • Infection control
  • Oxygen and equipment

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