Interstitial lung disease (ILD) refers to a group of disorders characterized by scarring or inflammation of the tissue that surrounds and supports the air sacs in the lungs. The changes associated with ILD can gradually cause the lungs to become stiff over time, preventing the air sacs from expanding normally. This decreases the amount of oxygen that is absorbed by the lungs and transferred to the bloodstream.
While some cases of interstitial lung disease are caused by a known source, a significant proportion of ILD cases are idiopathic, meaning that these diseases have no known cause. The most common known causes of interstitial lung disease are:
- Autoimmune diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma or sarcoidosis
- Exposure of the lungs to foreign substances such as bird dander or droppings, fungus or mold, and certain types of dust including asbestos, coal dust, cotton dust or silica dust
- Certain medications, such as nitrofurantoin, sulfanomides, bleomycin, amiodarone, methotrexate, gold, infliximab and etanercept
- Radiation therapy
Types of Idiopathic Interstitial Lung Disease
The most common types of idiopathic ILD are:
- Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF)
- Idiopathic interstitial pneumonias, such as cryptogenic organizing pneumonia (COP)
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