How is interstitial lung disease treated?
Treatment for ILD is designed to preserve the lung’s ability to function and keep the disease from getting worse. Treatment depends on many factors, including the type of ILD and how severe it is, and includes:
- Medications can help improve lung function by reducing inflammation and/or fibrosis. Medications to reduce inflammation include steroids (prednisone) and other rheumatologic drugs, including mycophenolate (CellCept), azathioprine (Imuran), leflunomide (Arava), rituximab (Rituxan), cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan), tacrolimus (Prograf) and others. Medications to stop further fibrosis include pirfenidone (Esbriet) and nintedanib (Ofev).
- Oxygen therapy: Extra oxygen delivered through a tube in the nose can make breathing easier. This therapy raises the blood’s oxygen levels, so that every breath is more productive.
- Pulmonary and exercise therapy: Breathing exercises and increased physical activity can improve lung fitness.
- Lung transplant: Some people with severe cases of ILD have lung transplants to help prolong their lives.
What are the complications of interstitial lung disease?
Many people with ILD have trouble breathing and a cough that does not go away. In more severe cases, complications can be life-threatening and include high blood pressure in the lungs, right heart failure, and respiratory failure (the lungs do not deliver enough oxygen to the body).