What Are the Symptoms of Interstitial Lung Disease?


Quick Answer

Symptoms of interstitial lung disease include dry coughs and shortness of breath, explains MedicineNet. Once the disease becomes advanced enough, fingers may become clubbed and the heart enlarged.

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Full Answer

There are very few specific symptoms associated with interstitial lung disease, states MedicineNet. A dry cough and shortness of breath are directly related to damage to the inner lining of the lungs. This lack of oxygen can then cause fatigue and weight loss, although these symptoms can be indicative of a variety of diseases. The heart enlarges to compensate for the oxygen loss, and the fingertips club and swell.

Interstitial lung disease occurs when the interstitial tissue of the lung air sacs scars and thickens, making it difficult to breathe and inhibiting oxygen intake to the rest of the body, according to Mayo Clinic. There are many causes including rheumatoid arthritis, sarcoidosis and lupus. It can also occur as a result of coal, silica or grain dust; mold; asbestos fibers; and certain medications such as chemotherapy drugs and some antibiotics. Although treatments can improve the symptoms, there is no cure for the disease other than a lung transplant. Anti-inflammatory medications can slow the scarring of the lungs, and oxygen therapy can reintroduce oxygen to the body and ease breathing.

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