The lung scarring that occurs in interstitial lung disease is often irreversible, and treatment will not always be effective in stopping the ultimate progression of the disease. Some treatments may improve symptoms temporarily or slow disease progress. Others help improve quality of life. Because many of the different types of scarring disorders have no approved or proven therapies, clinical studies may be an option to receive an experimental treatment.
Depending on the underlying cause of interstitial lung disease, treatments fall into two categories: anti-inflammatories or anti-fibrotics. Interstitial lung disease that has a known inflammatory or autoimmune process may benefit from initial anti-inflammatory or immunosuppressing medications. If there is a known exposure, avoiding the inciting agent is a first step to treatment. Specifically for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, there are two medications now available for slowing the scarring process. Your doctor may work with other doctors, such as a rheumatologist or cardiologist, to optimize your care.
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.
Lung transplantation may be an option of last resort for people with severe interstitial lung disease who haven't benefited from other treatment options.
June 11, 2015
- 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 July 8, 2014.
- Mason RJ, et al. Murray and Nadel's Textbook of Respiratory Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2010. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed July 8, 2014.
- King TE. Approach to the adult with interstitial lung disease: Clinical evaluation. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed July 8, 2014.
- Goldman L, et al. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed July 8, 2014.
- What is idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/ipf/. Accessed July 8, 2014.
- Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2015: 5 Books in 1. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2015. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed July 8, 2014.
- King TE. Treatment of idiopathy pulmonary fibrosis. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed July 8, 2014.
- Pulmonary rehabilitation. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/pulreh/pulreh_all.html. Accessed July 8, 2014.
- Ryu J (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. July 14, 2014.