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Effects of Medication on Your Lungs

14 Apr 2015
| Under Interstitial Lung Disease | Posted by
Effects of Medication on Your Lungs Lung Institute

Is Drug-induced Lung Disease Possible?

The commonality between suffering from a lung disease as well as a heart condition or rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is high.  Many people develop all three of these conditions from smoking cigarettes and tobacco products over a long period of time. Unfortunately, some medications used to treat heart disease and RA are also linked to the side-effect of creating pulmonary toxicity in the lungs and perpetuating lung disease further. Case studies have shown that the effects of medication on your lungs, although not terribly common, can cause pulmonary fibrosis through long-term exposure to pulmonary toxicity.

Medications Causing Lung Disease

Medications Used for Chemotherapy

Unfortunately, people that have been treated with certain medications to help fight a malignancy have subsequently developed a lung disease through the side-effects of their treatment. Here are some specific medications that have been linked to such results:

  • Methotrexate is a primary compound found in some chemotherapy regiments. One methotrexate study showed that of the participants that developed pulmonary toxicity from this drug, half were being treated with methotrexate for RA, and 28 percent were being treated for malignancies.
  • Cyclophosphamide is another compound that is commonly used to treat malignancies. Although this drug is primarily nontoxic, it metabolizes in the liver, and to a lesser extent the lungs. However, there is a risk that cyclophosphamide won’t metabolize properly in people who have specific genetic disorders and do not have the ability to metabolize it, resulting in the development of pulmonary fibrosis in the lungs.

Medications for Heart Conditions and RA

Like drugs used for chemotherapy, some medications for heart disease and RA can also lead to the development of pulmonary fibrosis. Here are a few:

  • Amiodarone and propranolol are two drugs that are used to treat heart disease and heart erythema. A study by the National Institute of Health (NIH) about amiodarone and another about propranolol showed that people who are elderly have an extended risk of developing a drug-induced lung disease.
  • Nitrofurantoin was studied in New Zealand and was found to be connected to the death of a woman getting treatment for RA. She developed interstitial lung disease resulting from a 26 month treatment with nitrofurantoin.

It is important to understand that developing a severe lung disease through contact use of these drugs is rare. However, knowing the side-effects of a specific drug in correlation with other health concerns and your genetic predisposition to certain health risks can make a difference on your quality of life.

If you or a loved one is suffering from a drug-induced lung disease, the Lung Institute may be able to help you. Chronic lung conditions like pulmonary fibrosis and interstitial lung disease (ILD) can be treated with cells from the patient’s own body. Contact us by calling 888-745-6697 to find out today if you qualify for this treatment.


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All claims made regarding the efficacy of Lung Institute's treatments as they pertain to pulmonary conditions are based solely on anecdotal support collected by Lung Institute. Individual conditions, treatment and outcomes may vary and are not necessarily indicative of future results. Testimonial participation is voluntary. Lung Institute does not pay for or script patient testimonials.

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