Interstitial Lung Diseases: Symptoms Causes & Risks

Interstitial lung infection can be caused because of various reasons and result to adversities.

Puru Bansal
Written by: Puru BansalUpdated at: Feb 17, 2022 13:45 IST
Interstitial Lung Diseases: Symptoms Causes & Risks

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Lung diseases are never easy, be it any problem. Lung diseases consist of a large group of conditions and disorder that cause lung tissue to be scarred gradually. This scarring of lung diseases is related to scary progression in which it gets hard to breathe. Interstitial lung diseases affect oxygen levels in the bloodstream and cause long-term exposure that could be risky. Treatment of interstitial lung disease depends on the conditions and causes of infection. It could also be due to autoimmune disorder that affects lungs severely. Today we will discuss about some symptoms and causes of interstitial lung diseases and risk factors associated with it. 

What Is Interstitial Lung Disease?

Interstitial lung diseases are a group of condition that affects tissues present in the lungs. We have Dr. Arun Khera, Senior Pulmonologist and Consultant at Vozart Healthcare Hospital, Gurugram. He explains that interstitial lung diseases can occur because of inflammation of lungs due to a number of factors. In this condition, it becomes particularly risky as it increases the risk of heart failure and lung severity. Most of the interstitial lung diseases are irreversible but can be controlled from further damage. Many of these conditions occur because of autoimmune diseases, whereas others develop because of infections. 

Interstitial Lung Disease Symptoms

Every type of disease that causes interstitial lung disease can have different symptoms. However being a lung disease some of the symptoms also remain common in all the conditions. Some primary signs and symptoms that can determine interstitial lung diseases are- 

  • Dry cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Getting tired or exertion very early


If you have any kind of breathing problems then it could be symptom of lung diseases. This can be quite problematic and you should not ignore it. Lung diseases can get worse within a few days if not diagnosed and treated on time.

Causes of Interstitial Lung Diseases

This disease seems to occur in the case when there is an inflammation or some sort of injury in your lungs. This group of diseases can cause damage to tissues present in the lungs which cannot be reversed in most cases. The healing of lung tissues takes several years and it becomes hard to treat them. Interstitial lung diseases can be triggered because of the following conditions-

  • Airborne toxins
  • Drug intake
  • Side-effects of medical treatment
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Different types of infections

Since autoimmune diseases and infections cannot be known from beforehand. We will focus on other factors that can cause interstitial lung diseases to happen.

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1. Occupational and Environmental Factors

If there is long term exposure to toxins or pollutants on a person, then it can cause damage to your lungs. This is because long exposure increases the chances of toxins entering your body through mouth or nose and goes into the lungs. This can be due to pollutants such as-

  1. Silica dust
  2. Grain dust
  3. Bird and animal dropping
  4. Radiation treatments
  5. Indoor hot tubs

2. Medication side-effects

Some of the drugs can have a negative effect on your lungs. They are usually high intensity medications often used to treat severe conditions such as cancer and heart problems. Here are some drugs that might cause interstitial lung diseases-

Chemotherapy Drugs- These medicines are designed to kill cancer cells present in the body or a particular organ. Drugs such as methotrexate and cyclophosphamide can damage your lung tissues and result to certain problems. 

Heart medicines- Medicines that are given to treat the condition of irregular heart beat or heart rhythm disorder can cause lung infections as well. Some drugs that could particularly trigger lung disease can be amiodarone or propranolol. 

Antibiotic drugs- Some kinds of anti-biotics also have strong components that can damage lung tissues in the body. These drugs include- Nitrofurantoin and ethambutol in general. 

Anti-inflammatory Drugs- Certain anti-inflammatory drugs such as rituximab and sulfasalazine can also cause interstitial lung damage in some cases. 

3. Health Conditions and problems

  • Lung damage can also be caused because of autoimmune disorders such as the following-
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Scleroderma
  • Dermatomyositis and polymyositis
  • Mixed connective tissue disease
  • Sjogren’s syndrome
  • Sarcoidosis


Complications of Interstitial Lung Diseases

1. High Blood Pressure in the Lungs- This is a common condition that gets affected because of having interstitial lung disease. It affects your blood pressure and can cause scars on lung tissues. It restricts blood vessels from having good flow over your lungs and thus causes complications. This condition is called as pulmonary hypertension

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2. Right-sided heart failure- Heart Failure on the right side of chamber could be very troublesome. It becomes hard for the body to move and pump blood. Pulmonary arteries get obstructed that could put extra strain and result to adversities. 

3. Respiratory Failure- Another serious complication that could lead to life-threatening consequences can be of respiratory failure. It is a chronic interstitial lung disease that causes severely low blood oxygen levels in the body. As a result of this condition, it can cause heart failure.

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