Our Newport Beach, CA, Pulmonologist Explains How Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD) is Diagnosed
Interstitial lung disease describes a group of disorders that cause scarring of the lung tissue that worsens over time. Breathing becomes more difficult and it is harder to get oxygen in your bloodstream, leading to complications with heart health and high blood pressure. Some existing health conditions or medications can predispose you to develop this type of lung disease, but how is it diagnosed? Our Newport Beach, CA, pulmonologist explains more here.
Risk factors for interstitial lung disease include exposure to hazardous materials, such as asbestos. Additionally, autoimmune diseases can cause interstitial lung disease, including:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Sjogren’s syndrome
- Dermatomyositis and polymyositis
- Mixed connective tissue disease
However, in certain cases, a cause cannot be determined. Once the lungs are scarred, the damage is usually not reversible, but there are medications to slow the progression of lung damage. Transplants may be an option for some people with ILD.
It may be difficult to identify and determine the cause of ILD. Our doctor must rule out other lung diseases before diagnosing you with ILD. Tests that are commonly used for this diagnosis are:
- Pulmonary function tests — spirometry, which uses a device you blow into to measure how much air your lungs can hold and how much oxygen can get to your blood from your lungs.
- Oximetry – which measures the amount of oxygen in your blood.
- Bronchoscopy – a piece of tissue is removed from your lung to get a definitive diagnosis.
Imaging tests, such as a CT scan to determine the extent of lung damage and an echocardiogram to evaluate the function of your heart.
Symptoms of ILD
The most common symptoms are shortness of breath while resting that is aggravated by exertion and dry cough. If you are experiencing symptoms, lung damage has already occurred. However, it is critical that you see our doctor as soon as you notice breathing problems, as there are many other lung diseases that can cause these symptoms. With an accurate diagnosis, our doctor will be able to determine which treatment is right for your condition.