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The symptoms and course of these diseases may vary from person to person, but the common link between the many forms of ILD is that they all begin with an inflammation.
Bronchiolitis. Inflammation that involves the bronchioles (small airways).
Alveolitis. Inflammation that involves the alveoli (air sacs).
Vasculitis. Inflammation that involves the small blood vessels (capillaries).
The following are the most common symptoms for interstitial lung diseases. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
Shortness of breath, especially with exertion
Fatigue and weakness
Loss of appetite
Loss of weight
Dry cough that does not produce phlegm
Discomfort in the chest
Hemorrhage in the lungs
The symptoms of interstitial lung diseases may resemble other lung conditions or medical problems. Consult your physician for a diagnosis.
How does interstitial lung disease occur?
In interstitial lung disease, the lung is affected in three ways:
Lung tissue is damaged in some known or unknown way.
The walls of the air sacs in the lungs become inflamed.
Scarring (fibrosis) begins in the interstitium.
Fibrosis results in permanent loss of that tissue's ability to breathe and carry oxygen. Air sacs, as well as the lung tissue between and surrounding the air sacs, and the lung capillaries, are destroyed by the formation of scar tissue.
The diseases may run a gradual course or a rapid course. People with ILD may notice variation in symptoms -- from very mild, to moderate, to very severe. The condition may remain the same for long periods of time or it may change quickly. The course of ILDs is unpredictable. If they progress, the lung tissue thickens and becomes stiff. The work of breathing then becomes more difficult and demanding. Some of the diseases improve with medication if treated when inflammation occurs. Some people may need oxygen therapy as part of their treatment.