Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD) refers to a broad class of conditions that generally cause scarring of lung tissue around the alveoli, or air sacs, which deliver oxygen to the bloodstream. Although there is an extremely broad range of causes, including smoking, asbestos exposure and side effects of medication, ILD typically causes the same collection of symptoms in patients.
When to See a Doctor for ILD Diagnosis
The scar tissue that develops causes the lungs to become stiffer, making it more difficult for oxygen-rich air to be drawn in and transferred to the bloodstream. Patients dealing with this will often develop shortness of breath, a dry unproductive cough, fatigue and mild chest pains.
By the time these symptoms do start to present, damage to lung tissue will usually already be present. That is why it is critical to see a physician as early as possible in order to give yourself the best chance of managing symptoms and potentially slowing down the progression of ILD.
Steps in the ILD Diagnosis Process
Since every person is different and there are so many potential causes of ILD, the diagnostic process will vary from patient to patient. However, there are some steps that you should expect to encounter when seeing a physician to determine the source of your lung-related symptoms.
- A review of you and your family’s medical history
- A discussion of your specific symptoms and how they are affecting your life
- A physical examination, including listening to your breathing through a stethoscope
- Ordering a chest X-ray or CT scan
- Other lab tests, such as spirometry, blood work and lung tissue analysis
Due to the complexity of this condition, it can take some time for a physician to reach a clear diagnosis. It is important to be as patient and helpful as possible in this process. A great way to help is to keep a journal of your symptoms and daily activities to provide your physician with information about possible causes of your condition.
Treatment Options for ILD
Upon diagnosis, the exact course of treatment for ILD will vary from patient to patient, but it generally involves addressing whatever factors are believed to be causing the inflammation and scarring in the lungs. For example, changing medication, quitting smoking and limiting exposure to workplace chemicals can be recommended if needed.
To manage symptoms, patients can take steroidal medication, use a supplemental oxygen tank, learn therapeutic breathing techniques and eat a healthier, anti-inflammatory diet. Another option available to patients, thanks to advances in medical technology, is regenerative treatments for the lungs.
At Lung Health Institute, we are the world-recognized leader in regenerative medicine. Our cellular therapy and Anti-Inflammatory Initiative™ plans are designed to help you reduce inflammation and restore lung function so you can get back to the life you’ve been missing. Take the next step to find relief. Contact one of our patient coordinators today for more information or to schedule a free consultation.