Interstitial Lung Disease Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment in Baltimore

The lung specialists at The Lung Center at Mercy are among the best in Baltimore to diagnose and treat pulmonary concerns including interstitial lung disease. Our physicians are sought out by Maryland patients for their extensive experience in the treatment of disorders that cause scarring of lung tissue. 

About Interstitial Lung Disease

Interstitial lung disease is a term used to describe a large group (130 or more) of lung disorders in which inflammation and progressive scarring of the lung tissue interfere with the ability to breathe and get enough oxygen to the bloodstream.  The scarring of the lung caused by interstitial lung disease is irreversible.

The cause of interstitial lung disease is unknown. Conversely, interstitial lung disease can be caused by rheumatoid arthritis, occupational lung disease, sarcoidosis, certain medications and radiation. This is referred to as idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis or idiopathic interstitial lung disease.

Interstitial lung disease can affect both men and women of any age, but it is found more commonly in individuals with autoimmune disease, such as lupus, scleroderma and rheumatoid arthritis.

Symptoms & Diagnosis

The most common symptom of interstitial lung disease is shortness of breath that usually occurs when one over exerts themselves. Shortness of breath can develop slowly overtime. Because the symptoms vary in severity, by the time they manifest, permanent scarring of the lung may have already taken place. Other symptoms may include:

  • Dry cough
  • Weight loss

Due to the complexity of interstitial lung disease, making an accurate diagnosis is important and seeking the help of a lung specialist is critical. A pulmonologist may use a variety of tests to diagnose interstitial lung disease:

  • Chest X-ray
  • CT or computerized tomography
  • Echocardiogram
  • Pulmonary function tests (spirometry, oximetry, exercise stress test)
  • Lung tissue analysis (bronchoscopy, bronchoalveolar lavage, surgical biopsy)
Treatment Options for Interstitial Lung Disease

Treatment options for interstitial lung disease differ according to the type of lung disease and its origin. There is no current treatment that has proven effective in halting the progression of interstitial lung disease. There are treatments that may help with slowing down the progression of the lung disorder. Treatment options may include:

  • Medications
  • Oxygen therapy
  • Lung transplant

Living with a chronic lung disease such as interstitial lung disease can impact a person’s lifestyle. Staying healthy is fundamental to living with interstitial lung disease. Lifestyle factors that are essential to staying healthy include eliminating smoking, eating well and getting an annual flu shot and the pneumonia vaccine.

The Lung Center at Mercy offers highly-skilled physician expertise for the treatment of a broad spectrum of pulmonary disorders, including COPD, lung cancer, hemoptysis, pleural effusions and sleep disorders.