What is Interstitial Lung Disease?

Interstitial lung disease is an umbrella term for over 200 chronic lung diseases and disorders characterized by scarring of the tissue between the air sacs in the lungs. This makes it hard for the lungs to receive enough oxygen. The scarring of the lungs is called pulmonary fibrosis. Symptoms can vary for each person, but all forms of the disease start with inflammation. A person can get a form of the disease due to a variety of factors. Being exposed to asbestos can cause interstitial lung disease.

Fibrosis results in the loss of the tissue of the lung’s capabilities of carrying oxygen. Symptoms of interstitial lung disease include bleeding in the lungs, labored breathing, unexplained weight loss, discomfort in the chest, loss of appetite, shortness of breath, especially with activity, extreme tiredness and weakness and dry, hacking cough.


There are a variety of tests that can be used to diagnose the disease. A physical exam is done along with getting the patient’s medical history. Tests can be done to measure how the lung moves air into and out of it. One of these tests is called spirometry and it is one of the most commonly used tests. It can be used to determine how severe the lung disease is, look for the initial signs of the lung disease, see how well the lungs get, keep and move air, determine how well treatment is working and see whether the airflow has decreased or if the airflow is disrupted.

Peak flow monitoring is when a device is used to determine how fast the patient can blow air out of their lungs. Chest x-rays are used to take photos of organs, bones and tissues. A lung biopsy can also be done. This involves taking out a tiny piece of tissue from the lung and examining it with a microscope. Another test is a CT scan, which produces images of horizontal slices of the body, making it more detailed and precise than a regular x-ray. Blood tests can also be done. A bronchoscopy is an exam of the major airways of the lungs. This is done using something called a bronchoscope.


Treatment varies from case to case and from person to person. Since lung damage from these diseases is usually very severe, treatment usually revolves around improving the person’s quality of life, relieving symptoms and slowing the progression of the disease. Medications may be used to lessen the amount of inflammation in the lungs. Other drugs can also be used to slow down the scarring of the lungs. Oxygen therapy may be used to make breathing easier by giving a patient extra oxygen. Another treatment option is pulmonary rehabilitation, which includes breathing exercises and physical therapy to make it easier to breathe and to make the lungs stronger. In severe cases, people with interstitial lung disease may receive a lung transplant.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with an interstitial lung disease from exposure to asbestos or another asbestos-related disease, do not hesitate to reach out to the Halpern Law Firm at (800) 505-6000. We are here to help, and we are always available to take your call. We have over 30 years of experience with asbestos-related cases and have won over $100 million for our clients. Call now for a free case evaluation.


Written By Sadie Gold

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