The lung scarring that occurs in interstitial lung disease can't be reversed, and no current treatment has proved effective in stopping the ultimate progression of the disease. Some treatments, though, may improve symptoms temporarily or slow the disease's progress. Others help improve quality of life.
Many people diagnosed with interstitial lung diseases are initially treated with a corticosteroid (prednisone), sometimes in combination with other drugs that suppress the immune system — such as methotrexate or cyclosporine. None of these combinations has proved very effective over the long run.
Using oxygen can't stop lung damage, but it can:
- Make breathing and exercise easier
- Prevent or lessen complications from low blood oxygen levels
- Reduce blood pressure in the right side of your heart
- Improve your sleep and sense of well-being
You're most likely to receive oxygen when you sleep or exercise, although some people may use it round-the-clock.
The aim of pulmonary rehabilitation is not only to improve daily functioning, but also to help people with intersitial lung disease live full, satisfying lives. To that end, pulmonary rehabilitation programs focus on:
- Physical exercise, to improve your endurance
- Breathing techniques that improve lung efficiency
- Emotional support
- Nutritional counseling
Lung transplantation may be an option of last resort for younger people with severe interstitial lung disease who haven't benefited from other treatment options.
Jul. 09, 2011
- Olson AL, et al. Interstitial lung disease. In: Schraufnagel DE, et al. Breathing in America: Diseases, Progress and Hope. New York, N.Y.: American Thoracic Society; 2010. http://www.thoracic.org/education/breathing-in-america.pdf. Accessed May 20, 2011.
- Selman M, et al. Clinical, radiologic and physiologic features of interstitial lung diseases. In: Mason RJ, et al. Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2010. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/192068760-2/0/1288/0.html. Accessed May 23, 2011.
- King TE. Approach to the adult with interstitial lung disease: Clinical evaluation. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed May 20, 2011.
- Raghu G. Interstitial lung disease. In: Goldman L, et al. Cecil Medicine. 23rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2008. http://www.mdconsult.com/das/book/body/191371208-2/0/1492/0.html#. Accessed May 20, 2011.
- What is idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/ipf/ipf_all.html. Accessed May 25, 2011.
- Shih G, et al. Interstitial lung disease. In: Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2011: Instant Diagnosis and Treatment. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2011. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/about.do?eid=4-u1.0-B978-0-323-05610-6..C2009-0-38600-6--TOP&isbn=978-0-323-05610-6&about=true&uniqId=230100505-53. Accessed May 25, 2011.
- King TE. Treatment of idiopathy pulmonary fibrosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed May 25, 2011.
- Pulmonary rehabilitation. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/pulreh/pulreh_all.html. Accessed May 25, 2011.
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