Interstitial Lung Diseases

Illustration of the respiratory system

Interstitial lung disease is the name for a large group of diseases that inflame or scar the lungs. The inflammation and scarring make it hard to get enough oxygen. The scarring is called pulmonary fibrosis.

Breathing in dust or other particles in the air is responsible for some types of interstitial lung diseases. Specific types include

  • Black lung disease among coal miners, from inhaling coal dust
  • Farmer’s lung, from inhaling farm dust
  • Asbestosis, from inhaling asbestos fibers
  • Siderosis, from inhaling iron from mines or welding fumes
  • Silicosis, from inhaling silica dust

Other causes include autoimmune diseases or occupational exposures to molds, gases, or fumes. Some types of interstitial lung disease have no known cause.

Treatment depends on the type of exposure and the stage of the disease. It may involve medicines, oxygen therapy, or a lung transplant in severe cases.

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