Interstitial Lung Disease

Interstitial lung disease, or ILD, is a common term that includes 130 to 200 chronic lung disorders which may be noncancerous and noninfectious. Other terms for the group of diseases include interstitial pulmonary fibrosis and pulmonary fibrosis.

Interstitial lung diseases are named after the tissue between the air sacs of the lungs called the interstitium – the tissue affected by fibrosis (scarring). The symptoms and course of these diseases may vary from person to person, but the common link between the many forms of ILD is that they all begin with inflammation.

The most common symptoms include:

  • Discomfort in chest
  • Dry cough that does not produce phlegm
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Hemorrhage in lungs
  • Labored breathing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Shortness of breath, especially with exertion
  • Weight loss

The Interstitial Lung Disease Program at UT Southwestern Medical Center provides comprehensive evaluations and treatment for the multitude of conditions that comprise interstitial lung disease. While most cases of interstitial lung disease develop gradually, cases can develop suddenly. The disease causes progressive scarring of the lungs that affects a person’s ability to breathe, but effective drug treatments can slow its progression.

Tests and Exams

Our lung specialists use examinations and procedures that include computerized tomography (CT) scans, pulmonary function tests, bronchoscopy biopsies, and video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery to obtain lung biopsies.

Treatments

Depending on the type of interstitial lung disease diagnosed, a UT Southwestern pulmonologist may prescribe corticosteroid drugs, antifibrotic drugs, oxygen therapy, or pulmonary rehabilitation therapy to help manage the condition. Lung transplantation may also be an option in severe cases of interstitial lung disease.

New drugs in development to treat interstitial lung disease may be available through UT Southwestern’s clinical trials program, which provides access to treatments unavailable at other health care facilities.

Patient Education

Because the symptoms of interstitial lung disease are similar to other lung conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, our lung specialists take every care to provide an accurate diagnosis and prescribe the most effective treatment for your particular condition.

UT Southwestern’s pulmonologists will assess your complete medical history and inquire about any occupation-related health hazards that may have contributed to lung disease. If you have been exposed to any toxins or other factors that are detrimental to healthy lung functioning, our pulmonologists have the expertise to halt or even reverse the progression of interstitial lung disease.