Mild restrictive lung disease is a moderate inability to expand the lungs fully, states WebMD. Generally, weak muscles, damaged nerves, a weakened chest and conditions that cause reduced elasticity in the lungs lead to restrictive lung disease. Specific medical conditions, such as obesity, neuromuscular diseases, scoliosis, interstitial lung diseases and an autoimmune disease called sarcoidosis, may cause restrictive lung disease.
Heightened physical activity causes shortness of breath in people with mild restrictive lung disease, and as the condition progresses, this occurs even when resting, according to WebMD. Restrictive lung disease may cause a dry cough that sometimes produces white sputum. Restrictive lung disease sometimes leads to depression and anxiety, especially in cases where it restricts lifestyle and activity.
Doctors use imaging tests, such as X-rays and CT scans, to check for signs of restrictive lung disease, explains WebMD. Pulmonary function tests measure the flow and volume of air through a patient's lungs as the patient undergoes various breathing levels. These tests aid in determining the severity of the condition. A physical exam, lab tests and information concerning personal health history are additional tools doctors use in a diagnosis. Doctors may use a device called an endoscope to view inside the lungs and take tissue samples.
Treatments for restrictive lung disease include medication, oxygen therapy and weight loss in cases where obesity is the underlying cause, notes WebMD. When chronic inflammation causes restrictive lung disease, doctors may prescribe immune system suppressants.