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

Overview and Symptoms

The most common symptoms of ILD 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 an 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 an 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

Treatment for ILD varies, depending on the severity of the disease. 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 diagnosis and treatment on a case by case basis.

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

Learn More

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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