Interstitial Lung Disease - Symptoms, Causes and treat

Interstitial lung disease or interstitial lung disease is kgroup disease lungs tagged by growth of scar tissue or fibrosis on organ lungs. Symptoms range from a dry cough to shortness of breath which can get worse over time.

Patients with interstitial lung disease will experience thickening of the interstitial tissue, namely the tissue around the alveoli (air sacs in the lungs). This condition can cause a decrease in the elasticity of lung tissue and reduced lung capacity, so that respiratory function decreases and the supply of oxygen in the blood decreases.

Symptom Interstitial lung disease

Symptoms of interstitial lung disease appear when damage to the interstitial tissue has affected the respiratory system. Symptoms that appear in patients with interstitial lung disease is a dry cough that can worsen during activities.

Over time, other symptoms also appear, including fatigue, muscle and joint pain, weight loss, fever, and shortness of breath. Symptoms of interstitial lung disease may continue to worsen over time.

In patients with end-stage interstitial lung disease, more serious signs and symptoms may be present. These symptoms and signs are related to decreased levels of oxygen in the blood, namely:

  • Blueness of the lips, skin, and nails.
  • Widening of the shape of the fingertips (clubbing finger).
  • Enlargement of the heart.

When to go to the doctor

Check with a doctor as early as possible when you have a dry cough that is prolonged and continues to get worse. These symptoms are very common in various lung diseases. Therefore, early examination is needed to detect the type of disease that occurs, so that appropriate treatment can be given immediately.

Interstitial lung disease is a chronic disease, so regular check-ups with a pulmonologist are needed to monitor disease progression and prevent complications.

Interstitial lung disease can be caused by autoimmune diseases, for example rheumatoid arthritis; or as a side effect of medications, such as amiodarone. When you suffer rheumatoid arthritis or taking amiodarone for the long term, have regular check-ups with your doctor to monitor disease progression and evaluate treatment.

Interstitial lung disease can also arise from exposure to asbestos particles. For workers who are at risk of exposure to asbestos, the company will conduct employee medical check-ups periodically according to company policy. Comply with company rules related to work safety, to prevent diseases caused by asbestos exposure.

Reason Interstitial lung disease

Interstitial lung disease occurs when the lungs are injured, which then triggers an incorrect response from the body. This response results in the formation of scar tissue in the lungs.

Some things or conditions that can cause injury to the lungs that trigger the wrong response from the body are:

Autoimmune disease

Various autoimmune diseases can trigger the emergence of interstitial lung disease, including:

  • Dermatomyositis and polymyositis
  • Vasculitis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Scleroderma
  • Sjogren's syndrome
  • Lupus

Drug side effects

Some types of drugs that can cause lung damage and trigger interstitial lung disease are:

  • Chemotherapy and immunomodulatory drugs, such as methotrexate and cyclophosphamide.
  • Heart disease medications, such as amiodarone and propranolol.
  • Antibiotic drugs, such as nitrofurantoin and ethambutol.
  • Immunosuppressant drugs, such as rituximab or sulfasalazine.

m exposuredangerous material

Workers in mining, agriculture or construction are often exposed to chemicals that are harmful to the lungs, putting them at increased risk of developing interstitial lung disease. Examples of these hazardous materials are asbestos fibers, coal dust, bran, mold and mildew spores, silica dust, and bird droppings.

In addition to the trigger factors mentioned above, there are also factors that can increase a person's risk of developing interstitial lung disease, including:

  • Mature age.
  • Have a family who has had interstitial lung disease.
  • Have had radiotherapy or chemotherapy.
  • Have a smoking habit.
  • Suffering from gastric acid reflux disease (GERD).

Even so, there are several types of interstitial lung disease whose cause is not yet known.

ExampleInterstitial lung disease

Some examples of interstitial lung disease are:

  • Interstitial pneumonia
  • Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis
  • Nonspecific interstitial pneumonia
  • Hypersensitivity pneumonia
  • Cryptogenic organizing pneumonia (COP)
  • Desquamative interstitial pneumonia
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Asbestosis

Diagnosis Interstitial lung disease

Symptoms of interstitial lung disease are very common in many other respiratory diseases. The non-specific symptoms of interstitial lung disease make the diagnosis of this disease quite difficult.

For this reason, the doctor will check for possible factors that can trigger interstitial lung disease. Through question-and-answer, the doctor will track the symptoms, medical history, as well as the patient's occupation and habits.

After that, the doctor will perform a physical examination with a stethoscope, to listen for breathing sounds. In addition to tracing the symptoms and examining the patient's physical condition, doctors also need to carry out various supporting examinations to determine the diagnosis of this disease. These inspections are in the form of:


Lung scanning methods used to detect interstitial lung disease are chest X-rays and CT scans.

Lung function test

This test is done to measure the performance of the lungs with a special examination called spirometry.

Biopsy lung tissue

This examination is done to see lung tissue samples in more detail through observation under a microscope. Lung tissue samples can be taken through a bronchoscopy procedure, which uses a device such as a small tube with a camera that is inserted through the mouth or nose.

Treatment Interstitial lung disease  

The treatment given aims to relieve symptoms, slow the progression of the disease, and maintain the patient's quality of life. One of them is by giving the following drugs:

  • Conticosteroids

    Corticosteroid drugs are used to inhibit the activity of the immune system, so that the body's response that causes inflammation and damage to lung organs can be suppressed.

  • Antifibrosis drug

    Antifobrosis drugs are given to patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Examples of drugs in this class are pirfenidone or nintedanib.

  • Antibiotics and antifungals

    Antibiotics are given to patients with interstitial pneumonia caused by bacterial infections, while antifungals are given to patients with interstitial pneumonia caused by fungal infections.

  • Drugs that reduce stomach acid production

    Symptoms of acid reflux can worsen the symptoms of interstitial lung disease. To reduce the production of stomach acid, doctors can give stomach ulcer drugs proton pump inhibitors or H2 antagonists.

In addition to drug administration, there are other methods that can also be used in the treatment of interstitial lung disease, namely:

  • Use oxygen addition

    Supplemental oxygen from oxygen cylinders aims to increase the supply of oxygen that is lacking to the body of people with interstitial lung disease.

  • Pulmonary rehabilitation program

    Pulmonary rehabilitation programs aim to make the lungs more effective at working. The program includes physical exercise and breathing technique exercises, as well as emotional support and nutritional guidance.

  • Lung transplant

    Lung transplantation is the last treatment step for people with interstitial lung disease. This method is carried out if various other treatment methods have not been able to relieve symptoms and cannot improve the patient's quality of life.

Please note, not all lung tissue damage in interstitial lung disease can be cured. The treatment given is also not always successful. Healing is determined by the type and severity of the disease, as well as the patient's condition.

Complications Interstitial lung disease

Interstitial lung disease can cause complications in sufferers. Some of the complications of this disease are:

  • Pulmonary hypertension
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Lung cancer
  • Coronary heart disease
  • Heart failure
  • Breathing failure

Prevention of Interstitial Lung Disease

Not all types of interstitial lung disease can be prevented, for example, types that have no known cause. Preventive steps that can be taken according to the triggering factors and risk factors include:

  • Use personal protective equipment at work to avoid exposure to harmful particles in the workplace.
  • Quit smoking, to maintain and protect the lungs from any type of disease, including interstitial lung disease.
  • Get vaccinated, such as flu and pneumonia vaccines, to protect the lungs from infections that can trigger interstitial lung disease.