Interstitial lung disease is a chronic condition that affects the interstitium of the lungs. It inadvertently affects the tissues that surround the alveoli.
Interstitial lung disease affects the connective tissues between the alveoli and bronchi. It is possible that the type of lung disease may involve both the alveoli and the bronchi. The connective tissues, the blood vessels and the lymphatic channels get infected and it is through this infection that the lungs get grievously affected causing interstitial lung disease. Along with the lungs it is the fibroblast that also gets affected. The fibroblast is the fiber that holds lungs together.
This is a chronic lung disease that can lead to creating a defect in the connective tissues, making the lungs susceptible to malfunctioning. As breathing is directly correlated to the activity dedicated to lungs, it is inevitable that the normal breathing function of an individual gets hampered. This is where the life expectancy gets affected. The inflammation of lung tissues can also lead to recrudescing an uncomfortable ache in the chest. Interstitial lung disease, if not diagnosed can lead to creating further complications leading to pulmonary fibrosis. Fibrosis is the condition in which you develop fibrous tissues in the interstitium.
Causes and Symptoms
There are a number of causes that are deemed culprits of interstitial lung disease. One of the main causes is the body’s delayed ability to recover when struck by an injury. Another cause could be inhaling certain gases that are harmful and add to being major environmental pollutants. Allergies, an origination of rheumatoid arthritis, undergoing radiation therapy and infection caused due to bacteria and viruses are the predominant entrants into the system. An interesting fact worth noting is that the interstitial lung disease may also be caused due to reasons completely unknown in nature. This is a type of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Chronic smokers and all those who have this disease running in their history are at a greater risk of countering this disease.
The diagnosis becomes very difficult as the symptoms are similar to common ailments that we suffer during aging, or by those who are obese. The major symptoms that one goes through is impaired breathing, excessive exhaustion especially when you are exercising, or have just ascended a flight of stairs. The symptoms may also be characterized by wheezing, feeling breathless even though one is only continuing with the daily chores of the house accompanied with an uncomfortable bout of chest pain.
As far as the life expectancy of patients afflicted with this disease is concerned, it is sadly restricted. It is expected to be 2 to 5 years on an average. Drug therapy is effective in a few cases. However, all that the intake of medication can do is to either partially terminate the staging of the disease, or result in slowing down the process of it spreading. The ones that fall under the category of interstitial lung disease are irreversible in nature. However, there are some that can be cured, the condition being, that one is able to diagnose the condition in its neonatal stages. This is due to the fact that when the scarring or damage occurs, the lungs cannot get back to the normal functioning or activity that they are meant to perform.
Interstitial lung disease constitute a group of diseases characterized by scarring or inflammation of the lungs. It is due to the lungs getting scarred that the capacity of the lungs to absorb adequate oxygen is greatly affected. There are some types of interstitial lung diseases that are caused by inhalation of potentially harmful dust and other particles in the atmosphere. They may even be categorized as occupational diseases.
- Coal worker’s pneumoconiosis, commonly known as Black Lung disease is caused due to breathing in coal dust or particles. The deal with this type of lung disease is that in majority of the cases, it does not prove fatal, however increased exposure to coal dust or graphite particles should be consciously avoided.
- Asbestosis is another type as a result of inhalation of asbestos fibers. There is no cure or treatment for Asbestosis, except that the affected person does not expose himself to the released Asbestosis fibers. Thus, the life expectancy is known to be extended when the individual lessens his contact with the particles.
- Silicosis, an interstitial lung disease, is led by inhalation of silica dust. The life expectancy for this lung condition may vary depending on the frequency of exposure to silica dust.
- Inhaling iron particles may cause Siderosis. The disease has a fairly rapid progression with severe symptoms affecting an individual, such as cirrhosis of the liver and cardiac crises. The life expectancy cannot be determined.
- Farmer’s lung or hypersensitivity pneumonitis, predominantly affects farmers who are exposed to crops inflicted with molds. This disease does not have a cure and thus, may affect the life expectancy of the individual. If precautions are not taken to avoid contact with moldy crops, farmers may become disabled, or in severe cases, the condition may even lead to death.
Know, that when the symptoms are in the initial stages, it is important that you do not neglect the condition, and seek medical aid. Make sure that there are no further complications. This can only be possible when you receive the practitioners prescription letter. He might put you on a dose of corticosteroids or oxygen supplementation. He may also resort to prescribing you anti-inflammatory like Bretnazone or anticancer drugs to further avoid the deterioration of the symptoms. However, the treatment may not be termed up to the mark.