4 Effective Treatments for Interstitial Lung Disease

If you imagine your lungs as two balloons that fill with air and expand and then empty and deflate, you don’t have quite the right imagery. Your lungs are quite complicated and filled with structures that take the oxygen you need out of the air you breathe in and then expel  through exhalation the carbon dioxide you don’t. Those structures are supported by a thin, weblike tissue called the interstitium. 

Dr. Michael Newton and his team are experts in treating diseases of the lungs. They understand exactly how the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide works, as well as where things can go wrong with it, including interstitial lung disease, which affects your interstitium. 

An umbrella term 

Interstitial lung disease is a broad category and includes numerous diseases and conditions that affect your interstitium. It’s sometimes called pulmonary fibrosis because it involves scarring or inflammation of your interstitium. 

Your interstitium is very thin, and scarring causes it to thicken and become less flexible. This is problematic because it needs to be able to stretch as you inhale. When your interstitium can’t expand properly, it’s hard to breathe. 

The scarring also makes it harder for the structures in your lungs to perform that crucial oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange. That means your body may not be getting the oxygen it needs to operate. 

Associated diseases and possible causes

Interstitial lung disease may be caused by exposure to environmental toxins, such as: 

It may also be related to certain medications or medical treatments, including: 

Often, patients who develop interstitial lung disease have another condition, like: 

As you can see, there are several factors that raise your risk of developing interstitial lung disease. The kind of work you do, your genetic makeup, having an autoimmune disorder, and smoking are all potentially contributing factors. In some cases, there’s no clear cause. When that happens it’s called idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. 

Available treatments 

The most appropriate treatment for interstitial lung disease depends on the specific type, as well as how damaged your lungs are. Often, the damage is irreversible, and in some cases it’s progressive, meaning it’s going to get worse with time. Our focus is on relieving your symptoms and slowing the progression if possible. 

Here are four common treatment approaches for people with interstitial lung disease. 

1. Oxygen therapy 

One of the most common treatments is oxygen therapy, which helps deliver extra oxygen to your lungs. This can make it easier for you to breathe, as well as ease symptoms that are caused by having too little oxygen in your blood. 

2. Pulmonary rehabilitation 

In some cases, pulmonary rehabilitation is an appropriate treatment, because you can learn ways to help your lungs work more efficiently, increase your endurance, and gain emotional support from people who understand what you’re going through. 

3. Pharmaceutical treatments

Dr. Newton may suggest treatments designed to reduce inflammation such as corticosteroids, or other medications. 

4. Lung transplant

In the most extreme cases, he may recommend a lung transplant. 

If you have questions about interstitial lung disease, schedule an appointment to discuss your concerns with Dr. Newton. One of the most important steps in getting the best treatment is to get advice that is tailored to your specific situation and condition. Schedule an appointment today. 

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