Includes a group of lung diseases which affect the interstitium, part of the lung structure which in a lace-like network extends throughout both lungs. The interstitium contains tiny blood vessels which enable gas exchange between blood and the air into the lungs.
All forms of interstitial lung disease cause thickening of the interstitium which can lead to inflammation, scarring or fluid. Certain forms of interstitial lung disease are short-lived whilst others are chronic and irreversible.
Several causes including bacteria, viruses and fungi can lead to interstitial pneumonias.
Regular exposure to inhaled irritants in the workplace can also cause other forms of interstitial lung disease and such irritants might include:
- Silica dust
- Coal dust or metal dusts
- Grain dust from farming
- Bird proteins
Other types of interstitial lung disease include:
Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis : which is a chronic, progressive form of fibrosis (scarring) of the interstitium which is of an unknown cause.
Asbestosis: caused by asbestos dust exposure.
Nonspecific interstitial pneumonitis: which is often present with autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or scleroderma.
Sarcoidosis: which can cause swollen lymph nodes and sometimes affect heart, skin, nerve, or eye involvement.
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