Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD)

Interstitial lung disease (ILD) is a group of respiratory disorders that vary in severity and affect adults of all ages. Because interstitial lung disease varies with respect to the severity of symptoms and prognosis, being diagnosed with ILD can be confusing and frightening to patients.

Overview and Symptoms

The most common symptoms of interstitial lung disease are cough and shortness of breath, symptoms that are similar to more common respiratory diseases such as asthma, COPD or emphysema. ILD can mimic recurrent pneumonia leading to a delay in diagnosis. If you have interstitial lung disease, you might experience:

  • Dry cough
  • Shortness of breath

Lung function tests, blood tests, imaging, and other diagnostics can aid in determining whether you have interstitial lung disease. Chest X-rays and CT scans typically show abnormalities that involve more than one region of the lungs. Lung function testing, while normal in mild cases, may show reduced lung volumes and low oxygen levels.


Treatment for interstitial lung disease varies, depending on the severity of the disorder. It often includes medication, oxygen therapy or pulmonary rehabilitation.

To help determine the best treatment for you, challenging cases are reviewed and discussed by a multidisciplinary team of doctors. BIDMC brings together chest radiologists, pulmonologists rheumatologists and thoracic surgeons to discuss ILD diagnosis and treatment on a case by case basis.

In addition, BIDMC's Pulmonary Division participates in clinical trials to test new ILD treatments.

Pulmonary, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine

The Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine provides comprehensive care for patients with critical illness, thoracic diseases and sleep-related disorders. We are committed to helping you breathe easier.

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