Interstitial Lung Disease: 9 Symptoms, Risk Factors, Causes, and How To Diagnose It

By | January 30, 2020
Interstitial Lung Disease

Interstitial lung disease is a group of lung diseases characterized by the growth of scarring or fibrosis in the lung organs. The symptoms are dry cough to shortness of breath that can deteriorate over time.

People with interstitial lung disease will experience the thickening of the interstitial tissue, which is the tissue around the alveoli (the air sac in the lungs). This condition can lead to a decrease in the elasticity of the lung tissue, so that respiratory function decreases and oxygen supply in the blood decreases.

Symptoms of Interstitial Lung Disease

Symptoms of interstitial lung disease arise when damage to the interstitial tissue has affected the respiratory system. Symptoms that arise in patients with interstitial lung disease are dry cough that can deteriorate during activity.

Over time, other symptoms also arise, such as fatigue, pain in muscles and joints, weight loss, fever, and shortness of breath. Symptoms of interstitial pulmonary disease can continue to deteriorate over time.

In patients with the end-stage interstitial lung disease, it can be seen more serious symptoms and signs. Symptoms and signs are related to the decrease in blood oxygen levels, namely:

  • Bluish on lips, skin, and nails.
  • The widening of fingertips (clubbing finger).
  • Enlarged cardiac organs.

Risk factors for interstitial lung disease

Factors that can increase the risk of a person to be exposed to interstitial lung disease include:


The disease often appears in older people. However, not closing possibilities can also happen to children and adolescents.

Exposure to hazardous compounds in the environment or occupation.

People working in the field of mining, construction, or agriculture are often exposed to chemicals that are harmful to the lungs. Such conditions may increase the risk of a person being exposed to interstitial lung disease.

Family history.

There is evidence suggesting that a person has a risk of interstitial pulmonary disease if there is a family that has contracted the disease.


Smo**king also increases the risk of developing interstitial lung disease.

Read also:

Causes of interstitial lung disease

This interstitial lung disease was originally caused by damage to the lung tissue between the alveoli. Under normal conditions, the damage will be repaired by the immune cell that will perform the cell regeneration. However, in the condition of interstitial lung disease, the cell regeneration process occurs abnormally so the interstitial lung disease arises.

The damage to the lung tissue itself can be caused by several other factors, such as:

  • Hazardous materials, such as asbestos fibers, coal dust, bran, fungi and mold spores, silica dust.
  • Side effects of medicines, including chemotherapy drugs, heart disease medications and antibiotics.
  • Radiotherapy Side effects.

Read also:

How is interstitial pulmonary disease diagnosed?

Lung imaging tests are usually performed to identify problems.

Chest X-Ray

Chest X-ray is usually the first test in the patient’s shortness of breath examination. The results of the patient’s X-ray with interstitial lung disease may show fine lines in the lungs.

Computed tomography (CT scan)

The CT scan machine takes multiple shots of the chest and the computer will produce detailed images of the lungs and surrounding structures. Interstitial lung disease can usually be seen clearly through a CT scan.

High-resolution CT scans

If the alleged interstitial pulmonary disease occurs, using a certain CT scan settings can increase the image of the interstitium (the space between cells). Settings can add CT scan capability in detecting interstitial pulmonary disease.

Lung function tests

The patient sits in a plastic chamber and breathes through pipes. The total capacity of a person’s lungs with interstitial lung disease may be reduced. They are also more problematic in transferring oxygen from the lungs to the bloodstream.

Lung biopsy

Taking a lung tissue to be examined by a microscope is the only way to determine the type of interstitial lung disease that a person suffered. There are several ways to obtain a lung tissue, called a biopsy of the lungs:

  • Bronchoscopy. Endoscopy is inserted through the mouth or nose to the airway. Small tools in the endoscopy can take samples from the lung tissue.
  • Video thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) using tools inserted through small slices, the surgeon can take tissue samples in several places.
  • Open lung biopsy (thoracotomy). In some cases, traditional surgery with wide slices in the chest is needed to carry out a biopsy of the lungs.

Read also: Lung Cancer: 13 Causes – Risk Factors, and Treatment

Thank you very much for reading Interstitial Lung Disease: 9 Symptoms, Risk Factors, Causes, and How To Diagnose It, hopefully useful.

Sharing is caring!