What is Interstitial Lung Disease?
For short, interstitial lung disease, or ILD, isn’t a lung condition itself but an extensive collection of lung diseases. They affect your interstitium, which is the space and tissue around the air sacs of the lungs.
Interstitial lung diseases cause inflammation and scarring in the interstitium. It, in turn, can lead to progressive stiffness in your lungs, eventually impairing your breathing and reducing the oxygen sent to the bloodstream.
Interstitial lung disease encompasses many conditions and symptoms. In fact, they may not even have a known cause, or they may result from genetic factors, environmental factors, or autoimmune diseases — which trigger your immune cells to attack your body, which isn’t good. (x)
Types of Interstitial Lung Disease
According to the American Thoracic Society, there are over 200 different lung diseases that attack the interstitium. (x) Some of these are incurable and chronic, while others are relatively minor. Examples include: (x)
- Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis
It is chronic scarring of the interstitium without a known cause.
- Cryptogenic Organizing Pneumonia
This interstitial lung disease may resemble pneumonia but without an infection.
- Desquamative Interstitial Pneumonitis
It is extensive scarring in the lungs, usually caused by heavy smoking.
- Black Lung
Also known as coal worker’s pneumoconiosis, breathing in coal dust causes this lung condition.
- Nonspecific Interstitial Pneumonitis
It is interstitium damage that often happens with autoimmune disorders, including rheumatoid arthritis or scleroderma.
- Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis
It refers to inflammation because of sniffing irritating substances or allergens, including mold, chemicals, and animal and plant debris.
- Acute Interstitial Pneumonitis
It is sudden interstitium damage that’s serious and usually requires emergency medical care and life support.
- Interstitial Pneumonia
This lung infection occurs within the interstitium.
This inflammatory disorder affects the interstitium. It can also cause problems with the eyes, heart, skin, nerves, joints, and swollen lymph nodes.
It is inflammation of the lungs or scar tissue caused by breathing in asbestos fibers.
- Chronic Silicosis
It is a lung condition often tied to an individual’s workplace and caused by inhaling excessive silica dust.
Interstitial Lung Disease Symptoms
ILD affects everyone differently, and the conditions of progress at varying speeds. For some people, the scarring develops quickly. In others, though, it takes a little longer to develop. Symptoms range from mild to severe as well and may not change for a while. (x)
Even though there are many types of ILD, many symptoms overlap among them. Most people experience some form of breathing difficulty, as well as symptoms such as:
The most common interstitial lung disease symptoms include shortness of breath (dyspnea), fatigue, and cough. People often describe shortness of breath as a sense of breathlessness. Most often, this occurs progressively, not suddenly, and manifests with strenuous activity or during exertion. (x)
- Reduced exercise tolerance
Exercise tolerance is lowered and similar to feeling fatigued.
- Coughing is typically nonproductive
Interstitial lung diseases also typically cause a dry, sputum-free cough.
- Weight loss
Noticeable weight loss is a symptom most doctors watch in their patients as it could mean other health concerns besides ILD.
Low energy or fatigue is quite common.
- Rash and Joint or Muscle Pain
If you have connective tissue or systemic autoimmune disease, you may also experience joint or muscle aches and rash and other non-respiratory symptoms.
Living with Interstitial Lung Disease
Breathing Matters, a project set up by the University College London Hospitals, compiled a list of lifestyle habits those with ILD can adopt (in consultation with your healthcare professionals) to cope with your condition, such as: (x)
- Fill up on vegetables and fruits and cut down on saturated fat
- Quit smoking to increase the amount of oxygen in your blood as well as lower your heart rate and blood pressure
- Try to engage in mental exercises
- Shed extra weight to boost your breathing capacity
- Work out to keep your body functioning as best as it can
- Avoid situations where you might catch lung infections from others
- Steer clear of excessive dust and pollutants
- Seek emotional support from family, friends, support groups and healthcare providers
- Be sure to get adequate rest and don’t overexert yourself
- Ensure that your immunizations are current
Interstitial Lung Disease Causes
Anyone can develop interstitial lung disease, but it might be more prevalent among people with certain medical disorders, environmental hazards or drug use. The following risk factors can contribute to ILD: (x)
A genetic interstitial lung disease develops when you inherit specific genes from one or both parents. Examples of these forms of ILD include Gaucher disease (characterized by lesions on bones and enlarged internal organs, such as the liver and spleen) and neurofibromatosis (growth of tumors on nerves). (x)
- Autoimmune Disorders
In autoimmune disorders, the immune system attacks your body’s own healthy cells, ultimately changing and destroying organ function. Autoimmune conditions that can attack the lungs include: (x)
- Sjogren’s syndrome
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Mixed connective tissue disorder
- Environmental Risks
Some occupations also put people at an increased risk of interstitial lung disease. Exposure to different pollutants or toxins can eventually harm the lungs. These substances include: (x)
- Silica dust
- Dust, like grain dust
- Iron welding
- Radiation treatments
- Clay minerals, like talc
- Some animal proteins, including those found in bird droppings
Certain medications can also impair the lungs in some people. Medicines causing this include: (x)
- Chemotherapy drugs
- Heart medicines for treating irregular heartbeats
- Narcotics, such as heroin and the medication methadone
- Certain antibiotics
- Anti-inflammatory medications
Idiopathic Interstitial Lung Disease
Idiopathic means the cause of the interstitial lung disease is unidentifiable. This type of ILD is among the most common and more often affects people over the age of 60. (x)
Treatment for Interstitial Lung Disease
Treatment for interstitial lung disease depends on the severity of the condition and specific ILD diagnosis.
Sometimes, a watchful waiting approach without drug treatment is suitable. When watching and waiting isn’t enough, the medical industry successfully treats many forms of interstitial lung disease with medicines. Some medicines are only ideal for certain types of ILD and not others.
No matter the cause of ILD, if you have it, the aim of treatment is to: (x)
- Manage or minimize potential complications of interstitial lung disease
- Eliminate the source of the issue when possible
- Lower inflammation and stop the formation or progression of scarring of the lungs
- Improve one’s quality of life or keep it from deteriorating
Medications for ILD
Being diagnosed with interstitial lung disease, there are several medications that your doctor might prescribe.
- Anti-Inflammatory Medications
While some anti-inflammatory medications can harm the lungs, others might help ease symptoms. One good example is prednisone, a corticosteroid.
- Corticosteroid Therapy
Corticosteroid therapy can be helpful for various forms of ILD, but it causes some side effects. (x)
Anti Fibrosis Medications
Anti Fibrosis or anti-scarring medications are a newer drug class that works by blocking pathways in your body that can cause scar tissue formation.
These medicines treat idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis — the form of ILD with no known cause.
Some examples of these drugs include Esbriet (pirfenidone) and Ofev (nintedanib), which research reviewed for their usefulness in other forms of ILD. (x)
If you have ILD, the doctor might prescribe oxygen therapy to help lower breathlessness and improve their ability to stay active. However, a recent research review questions the effectiveness of oxygen therapy in the long-term treatment of people suffering from interstitial lung disease. (x)
Many doctors recommend pulmonary rehabilitation to help support the lungs. It involves a variety of exercises to help a person stretch their lung volume and breathe better.
A recent study looked at how pulmonary rehabilitation could be helpful for people with different forms of interstitial lung disease. At the end of the study, pulmonary rehabilitation did, in fact, prove to be beneficial in improving symptoms of ILD, improving quality of life and increasing exercise tolerance. (x)
Conditions that are progressing rapidly or are severe may call for a lung transplant. Your doctor will want to ensure that you’re healthy enough and have no other health conditions before suggesting a lung transplant. (x)
Supplements for Lung Health
A variety of supplements may help improve general respiratory health and ILD symptoms by reducing lung scarring or inflammation. Supplements are not a cure, and if you have any medical condition, it’s essential to consult with your healthcare provider before taking them. These dietary supplements include:
- NAC (N-Acetyl L-Cysteine) Powder
The suggestion is that you take 600 milligrams of N-acetyl L-cysteine up to thrice daily, or as recommended by your doctor.
- Beta Glucan Powder
Beta-glucan works best in a dose of 250 milligrams once a day with food or as suggested by a doctor.
- Cordyceps Powder
Take 1,500 milligrams of cordyceps powder twice or thrice daily, or as recommended by a physician.
- Nattokinase Powder
Nattokinase is best in doses of 100 milligrams 1-3 times daily, depending on your desired effect.
- Nettle Powder
Unless allergic to nettle, take 750 milligrams of nettle powder once or twice a day, or as suggested by your doctor.
- Marshmallow Root Extract Powder
This natural anti-inflammatory may help ease cold and flu symptoms, supporting the immune system and preventing infections. It can also relieve stomach pain. (x)
The ideal dose of marshmallow extract is 1,200 milligrams, taken one or two times daily.
Where to Buy Supplements to Improve General Respiratory Health and ILD Symptoms?
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Are you interested in trying any of these powders or supplements mentioned in this article as a possible solution to helping you with general respiratory health and ILD symptoms? Contact BulkSupplements.com to place an order today.
The Bottom Line
Interstitial lung disease refers to a broad class of over 200 lung diseases marked by inflammation or scarring (fibrosis) of the lungs, making it difficult to get adequate oxygen. It not only causes fatigue, dry cough and shortness of breath, but it may even be life-threatening.
Many different things can bring on ILD. Exposure to chemicals, genetics, and autoimmune conditions are some of the underlying causes. Oftentimes, though, no cause applies, in which case ILD appears idiopathic — no known cause.
Interstitial lung disease treatment depends on the cause and severity of the condition. Medications can help someone breathe more easily and slow down lung damage. In severe cases, however, doctors may recommend a lung transplant. In consultation with a healthcare professional, even dietary supplements can be part of an overall treatment strategy. It would help if you considered exercising and changing your lifestyle for the better.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.