Interstitial lung disease (ILD) refers to the abnormal changes occurring inside the lungs causing these to develop thick fibers and scarring. As a result the lungs shrink in volume. This causes less air to be ventilated and less oxygen transferred into the blood as in Interstitial Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF). There are more than 200 types of this disease but IPF is the more common and deadly.
2) Why does a suffering patient get out of breath on exertion?
This is so because as explained above the capacity of the lung becomes restricted. Therefore, the patient has to breathe short breaths repeatedly to be able to take in adequate air to oxygenate his blood. The concentration of oxygen saturating the blood falls as the disease progresses.
3) Is this disease curable?
Although there is no sure treatment but medicines are available which attempt to stall the progression of the disease. These are called anti-fibrotic drugs.
4) Is this disease transmitted from one patient to the other?
No, This is not an infectious disease and does not cause any health hazard to others.
5) What is the cause of this disease?
The majority of these diseases do not have an identified cause. However, some of them may be caused by exposure to environmental allergens like pigeons, parrots etc., or industrial pollutants like silica dust or some drugs. Chronic aspiration of acid reflux may also be a cause while some may be related to connective tissue diseases and other immunnedisorders.
6) Are there any dietary restrictions that may help?
No there are no dietary restrictions. In fact the patient should eat healthy food and balanced diet.
7) How can I prevent infections if suffering with ILD?
It is better to take pneumonia vaccine at least once and flu vaccine during seasonal changes.
8) Is it necessary to take oxygen?
Yes, because fibrosis makes it difficult for the oxygen to cross the thickened air sac walls into the blood. This may not be possible at room air, that is why oxygen supplement is required.