Interstitial Lung Diseases

What are ILD?

Interstitial lung diseases (ILDs) result from damage to the lining of the alveoli (air sacs) leading to inflammation and fibrosis of the interstitium (tissue wall between the alveoli).The main symptom of ILDs is progressive shortness of breath during physical exercise (at an early disease stage), and then at rest (when the disease is more advanced).
There are more than 200 different diseases included in this category.The most common ILDs include sarcoidosis and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, as well as diseases caused by drug toxicity. Most ILDs are rare and, therefore, accurate data on prevalence and mortality are scarce.

What causes ILD?

In 65% of ILD cases the cause is still unknown (known as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis). In 35% of ILD cases, external factors are recognised as the cause of the disease, especially organic or inorganic material, drug reactions and infections.

Treatment of ILD

Corticosteroids are used to suppress inflammation present in some ILDs. However, they are only useful in a limited number of patients.

Other drugs and oxygen

Other drugs are added occasionally, especially when corticosteroids are not effective in reversing the disease or are causing troublesome adverse effects. Some patients may need oxygen therapy as part of their treatment, particularly in the later stages of their disease.

Lung transplantation

Lung transplantation may offer hope for selected patients with severe ILDs. To date, no curative treatment is available for most ILDs.

For further information on Sarcoidosis click here

Reproduced by kind permission of the European Lung Foundation.