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Interstitial Lung Disease

Interstitial Lung Disease - What it is

Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD) is a term encompassing a diverse group of disorders that cause inflammation and scarring (fibrosis) in the lungs, resulting in stiffness and difficulty breathing.

Interstitial Lung Disease - Symptoms

  • ​Shortness of breath 
  • Cough 
  • Decreased exercise tolerance 
  • Fatigue 
  • Weight loss

Interstitial Lung Disease - How to prevent?

Interstitial Lung Disease - Causes and Risk Factors

Various factors can cause ILDs, these include: 
  • Autoimmune diseases (conditions which involve the immune system harming the body) such as systemic sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis
  • Environmental and occupational exposures to different toxins or pollutants like bird droppings, silica
  • Familial – the disease is hereditary (passed down the family tree) 
  • Idiopathic – the cause is currently unknown

Interstitial Lung Disease - Diagnosis

When ILD is suspected, diagnostic tests such as the following may be necessary:

  • X-rays
  • CT scans 
  • Pulmonary function tests
  • Specific blood investigations
  • Bronchoscopy
  • Surgical lung biopsy

Interstitial Lung Disease - Treatments

​Treatment for ILD depends on the underlying cause. 

Medications used may include:
  • Immunosuppressants such as Corticosteroids – this reduces the amount of inflammation in your lungs and the rest of your body
  • Anti fibrotics – this helps to slow the rate of scarring (fibrosis) and deterioration in your lungs

Non-medication treatments involve:

  • Pulmonary rehabilitation programme – helps strengthen breathing muscles and manage breathing difficulties. Structured and supervised exercise training with education, support and self-management strategies
  • Oxygen therapy – supplemental oxygen may improve activity levels. In some cases, patients may require long term oxygen therapy
  • Updated vaccinations against influenza and pneumococcus reduce the risk of
    infections which can worsen breathlessness and other symptoms

Interstitial Lung Disease - Preparing for surgery

Interstitial Lung Disease - Post-surgery care

Interstitial Lung Disease - Other Information

​Regular follow-up with your doctor is crucial for monitoring compliance, treatment response, and managing potential side effects of medications. Your doctor will provide further guidance on treatment plans during consultations.

Download our leaflet to learn more about ILD:


The information provided is not intended as medical advice. Terms of use. Information provided by SingHealth