The official blog of the Lung Institute.
Living with ILD isn’t easy. It’s why we’re here to help.
Interstitial lung disease (ILD) is an umbrella term for a general type of lung disease that encompasses more than 100 different types of pulmonary conditions affecting oxygen absorption within the lungs. For those who suffer from the disease, it can present symptoms such as fatigue, dry cough, weight loss, acute pneumonia, cyanosis (bluish discoloration of the skin), and shortness of breath during rest or exertion.
Needless to say, the expression of these symptoms can be incredibly unpleasant for those with this form of chronic lung disease. And though there are forms of treatment available, it’s important to understand your disease and how to navigate it in order to keep yourself in the best health possible.
Thankfully, that’s where we come in.
With your health in mind, the Lung Institute is here to breakdown Interstitial Lung Disease: Stages, Prognosis and Treatment in order to give you the information you need to improve your health one day at a time.
Interstitial Lung Disease: Stages
We’ll begin with the most important: ILD stages, because it has a direct effect on your potential life expectancy. In determining the progression and advancement of your interstitial lung disease, your physician or pulmonologist will typically go through two primary methods of judging your respiratory health: the GOLD System and the BODE Index. These two tests are designed to assess your pulmonary condition through a variety of different tests such as a spirometry assessment (or PFT), as well as several other metrics like a 6-minute walk test, oximeter results, and arterial blood-gas analysis.
This can sound like a lot, but trust us, the more information your doctor or pulmonologist can gather, the better. It’ll give them the maximum amount of information available in order to create the best treatment plan for your health.
The typical breakdown of ILD stages are as follows:
- Mild- meaning you have 5+ years with appropriate treatment
- Moderate- meaning you have 3-5+ years with appropriate treatment
- Severe- meaning you have 3+ years with appropriate treatment
- Advanced- meaning you have < 3 years with appropriate treatment
Although these are the general guidelines of ILD staging, as with any progressive lung disease, these life expectancies are largely dependent on the individual. This means that through proper treatment, diet and exercise, it’s possible to exceed these figures while maintaining a healthy quality of life.
Interstitial Lung Disease: Prognosis
In the treatment of any disease there’s initially a prognosis given. A prognosis, in short, is essentially an outlook on your disease’s eventual progression. It’s a directive on what the development of the disease will look like moving forward and how it will affect you.
In the case of ILD, the prognosis largely depends on the treatment regimen as well as cause of the disease’s development, but generally you can expect the following developments in your health:
- Weight loss
- Acute pneumonia
- Shortness of breath
- Weight loss
- Abnormal enlargement of the fingernail base
- Dry, persistent cough
- High blood pressure (in some cases)
- Heart failure (in some cases)
With a clear understanding of what’s to come and a strong grasp of your disease, it’s time to talk about what you can do about it, and how a few changes to your lifestyle and treatment options can have a big effect on your overall health.
Interstitial Lung Disease: Treatment Options
In treating ILD you have a variety of medical treatment options ranging from inhalers, medication, stem cell therapy and supplemental oxygen. And though these treatment options have shown efficacy in addressing the symptoms of lung disease—and in the case of stem cell therapy, disease progression overall—there are a variety of things you can do today that can give your health and life expectancy a small boost.
- Quit Smoking – Not only will it actively take years off of your life, but it will make your disease symptoms significantly worse. And trust, although the symptoms of ILD may not be bad enough for you to change now, by the time they progress to the point of being unbearable, it’ll be too late to go back.
- Change Your Diet – it doesn’t have to be as extreme as never eating meat again and going vegetarian. Start with portions. Try to eat more grains (rice and pasta) than you eat meat. From there drop the pasta and add in more vegetables. If you want to eat dessert, swap that out with some good and well-prepared fruit. Even strawberries with a little whipped or cream cheese would be a healthier pairing than a big German chocolate cake.
- Get Out and Exercise- we say this one a lot but it’s important to get your blood pumping and moving through your body easier. Why? Because your blood carries your oxygen to the parts of the body that need it. Even if it’s doing standing squats in front of the TV or walking to the mailbox, start small and build-up from there. If you can keep yourself disciplined and consistent in your goals you’ll be walking marathons in no time.
Moving Forward with Interstitial Lung Disease
A diagnosis of ILD is by no means the end. In fact, it’s just the beginning of your journey to better health and a better quality of life. And the first step is quitting smoking if you haven’t already. Even though we always recommend quitting smoking first as a crucial step to better health, the second is to address your general health through simple diet and exercise.
With these behavioral changes, it’s possible to greatly affect the pronouncement of symptoms within those with emphysema, COPD and pulmonary fibrosis. However, when lifestyle changes fail to improve your quality of life in the way that you may expect, it may be time to consider stem cell therapy. Rather than addressing the symptoms of lung disease, stem cell therapy may directly affect disease progression and may improve quality of life.
For more information on stem cell therapy and what it could mean for your life moving forward, contact us today or call us at (800) 729-3065. Our patient coordinators will walk you through our available treatment options, talk through your current health and medical history and determine a qualifying treatment plan that works best for you.
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